Spokane doctor extradited in slaying

SPOKANE — A 45-year-old Spokane Valley physician arrested in mid-December in the 1999 slaying of his estranged wife has been extradited to Pennsylvania.

Dr. Richard W. Illes flew out of Spokane on New Year's Day, according to the Spokane County Sheriff's Office.

Illes, who lives in nearby Liberty Lake, was arrested Dec. 17 and has been charged with homicide in the death of his wife, Miriam, who was fatally shot in her home in Lycoming County, Pa.

On Tuesday, Illes lost a battle with his former in-laws over temporary custody of his 9-year-old son.

Spokane County Superior Court Commissioner Fred Aronow upheld the temporary custody rights of Illes' former relatives Virginia and Gordon Butler, who live in Florida. "Dr. Illes is not available to parent his child, nurture him, guide him," Aronow said.

Illes' Spokane lawyer, Richard Wall, had argued that the doctor's jail stay shouldn't be seen differently than a parent leaving town for a business trip.

Illes should be able to select someone to care for his son in the short term, Walls said. Illes suggested his girlfriend, Susan Alsager, care for the boy, allowing the child to stay in Liberty Lake.

Aronow ordered the Butlers not to discuss the slaying with the boy.

The Butlers' lawyer, Peter Lineberger, argued that Illes' interest in retaining custody was partially rooted in a desire to protect his alibi. Illes contends he and his son were eating at a restaurant when the slaying occurred.

At the time, Miriam and Richard Illes were separated and involved in a bitter divorce, according to an affidavit of probable cause filed by Pennsylvania State Police.

The dispute centered on Illes' income, which he reported as $600,000 but which was argued to be $1.2 million, according to the affidavit.

Illes arrived in Spokane in March 2001, partly to escape Eastern media coverage, according to court testimony Tuesday. In Spokane, the cardiologist first tried to join a heart-surgery group. That plan fell through, and he opened Valley Cosmetic Surgery Center.