A Philadelphia mother has been slapped with murder charges following the 2018 death of her quadriplegic daughter, who authorities say died from a lethal concoction of medication and alcohol.
Yelena Nezhikhovskaya, 63, was arrested on November 16 on murder, drug delivery resulting in death, obstruction, and false reporting charges, related to the death of her daughter, according to online court records.
Authorities were called to the woman’s Philadelphia home on December 17, 2018. Her daughter, Yuliya Nezhikhovskaya, 31, a quadriplegic with cerebral palsy, was pronounced dead on scene.
A motive has not been revealed.
However, the woman’s lawyer, Illon Fish, insisted his client had nothing to do with her daughter’s death.
“She’s not only not guilty, but she’s innocent,” Fish told Oxygen.com. “She loves her daughter very much. The government’s prosecuting my client based on conflicting medical narratives and they just randomly chose the narrative that suits them best.”
Fish said the new charges against Nezhikhovskaya “came out of nowhere.”
“They’ve essentially waited 11 months to charge her,” Fish also said. “The only basis for charging her is they found some alcohol in her blood and some higher doses of her medicine. Witnesses all said there was no alcohol in the house. It’s really unclear what happened.”
Coroners had originally ruled that Nezhikhovskaya’s daughter’s cause of death was a result of “complication of cerebral palsy,” according to a copy of the woman’s death certificate obtained by Oxygen.com.
Fish, who also pointed to the death certificate, was adamant his client’s daughter died from natural causes related to her condition — not from a drug or alcohol-related overdose.
“She in her particular incidence, not only did she have cognitive difficulties, she was also quadriplegic, and needed full-time care,” Fish said. “The statistics of somebody surviving to the age of 30 with those complications are less than 25 percent.”
Nezhikhovskaya is a Russian who’s been living in the U.S. for 28 years, according to her legal team. Her daughter reportedly came here when she was a young child and the woman’s husband is Ukrainian.
The 38-year-old criminal defense lawyer described his client as a “sweet,” loving mother.
“She cared for this child — it was her full-time job for 31 years,” Fish said. “She loved the child to death. After the child died, she was very sad, like any mother would be.”
The news alarmed the family’s neighbors, who were floored by the allegations against Nezhikhovskaya.
"Oh my God, that's really scary,” the family’s neighbor Lauren Andrews, told WPVI-TV. “I've met that woman a million times, she was very nice to me, I'm shocked.”
Andrews said it was typical to hear Yuilia wailing and crying, but never thought anything of it, given her condition.
“I could hear noise but the woman was disabled and mentally disabled as well, so she would sometimes yell when she wasn't happy,” Andrews added. “It seemed fairly normal. I've been living here for three years, I've been hearing that the whole time I live here.”
A spokesperson for the Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office declined to comment on Tuesday.
Nezhikhovskaya is currently being held without bail. The 63-year-old is scheduled in court for a preliminary hearing on Dec. 4, according to online court records.
In 2013, Nezhikhovskaya also pleaded guilty to harassment, separate court records stated.
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