Noted criminal defense attorney Peter Leo Knecht died today in Los Angeles after a two-year battle with cancer with his wife, Dr. Ava Cadell, the relationship therapist and television personality, at his side. He was 78.
During his career, Knecht represented such clients as David Crosby, Sly Stone, Dennis Hopper, Andy Garcia, Peter Fonda, John Barrymore Jr., Jason Priestley, Ike Turner, Ryan and Tatum O’Neal, Rob Lowe, Heidi Fleiss, Robert Blake, Charles Bronson and Robert Downey Jr.
He also appeared as a legal analyst on local and national TV, including CNN, CBS, NBC, ABC, Fox Network, KCAL-Channel 9 and KCOP-Channel 13. Some of his high-profile cases have been featured on The Today Show, Good Morning, America and Celebrity Justice.
Born in 1936 in Vienna to Dr. Rudolph and Elizabeth Knecht, Knecht fled with his family to the U.S. during World War II, eventually landing in Los Angeles. He attended the University of Southern California and Southwestern College of Law, later taught “Search and Seizure” at the Sheriff’s Academy and served as District Attorney for Beverly Hills and Malibu before going into private practice. He recently received his 50-year plaque from the California Bar Association.
He has written an autobiography, Blood & Justice on the Sunset Strip, which will be published posthumously.
In addition to his wife, survivors include his son Chance, daughter Courtney and grandson Aaron. A service and memorial will take place at the Tanach Chapel within Mount Sinai Cemetery at 5950 Forest Lawn Drive, Los Angeles, at 3 p.m. on Sunday, Oct. 12.