MARTINEZ -- "Extreme force" caused the injury that killed a 59-year-old Alamo woman in August, according to testimony Friday at the preliminary hearing for a man charged with murder in the death of his next-door neighbor.

Michael Littman, a 59-year-old real estate broker and certified public accountant, is accused of shoving 59-year-old Doris Penico on a steep concrete driveway as he was chasing her husband, Victor Penico, on Aug. 27.

Doris Penico, a retired lawyer, never regained consciousness. A pathologist who conducted her autopsy told investigators that it would take "extreme force to cause that type of injury," Contra Costa County Sheriff's Office Sgt. Jose Beltran said.

A detective on Friday played a tape of the 911 call in which Littman's wife, Terry, reported that the Penicos had pushed and punched her husband.

"Both of them were out there, going after him," Terry Littman is heard saying on the recording. "Our neighbors just attacked my husband."

Investigators have testified that the whole incident was caught on the Penicos' hidden security camera and that neither Doris nor Victor Penico ever struck Michael Littman, even in self-defense.

Terry Littman told a dispatcher that Doris Penico had tripped herself. Detectives say Michael Littman shoved her between bouts of beating her husband.

"She was running after them, and she tripped and fell. She's lying there. She's kind of a drama queen," Terry Littman says on the recording.


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Michael Littman is charged with murdering Doris Penico, who suffered a fatal head injury, and assaulting Victor Penico. The neighbors had been at odds for years over a shared driveway and other disputes. The deadly incident started when the Penicos told Michael Littman to stop filming Doris Penico when she was outside her house, which detectives said he did frequently.

Testimony continues April 12. At the conclusion of the preliminary hearing, a judge will rule whether there is enough evidence to send Michael Littman to trial. He remains free on $1.08 million bail.

Contact Malaika Fraley at 925-234-1684. Follow her at Twitter.com/malaikafraley.