Prosecutors believe a New York man snapped his wife’s neck, then later plotted to kill his own parents, in an attempt to gain control of the woman’s $5.2 million fortune after her death.
“His primary motive for killing his wife was pure, unadulterated greed,” Manhattan Assistant District Attorney Matthew Bogdanos told jurors during the first day of trial for Rod Covlin, 45, according to the New York Post.
Covlin is facing murder charges in the 2009 death of his estranged wife Shele Danishefsky, who was discovered by her daughter floating face down in the bathtub of her luxury Upper West Side apartment building, just days after she had reportedly told others she planned to cut Covlin out of her will.
“Her murder prevented that change from taking place,” Bogdanos said, according to the New York Daily News.
Prosecutors contend that Covlin put Danishefsky in a choke hold, snapped her neck and then staged the death to appear like an accidental drowning. The pair were in the process of getting a divorce and had been living in separate apartments across from each other at the time.
Covlin, who was described by prosecutors as a chronically unemployed backgammon addict, then allegedly turned his fury toward his parents who had gained custody of the couple’s two children, Anna and Myles.
The move prevented Covlin from being able to control the children’s inheritance. Prosecutors said Covlin then developed a series of devilish plans to get rid of his parents, including one far-fetched scheme to get his daughter to unwittingly poison the couple with poison-laced sugar for their tea, the Post reports. He later decided against the plan after worrying that his daughter could be blamed, Bogdanos said.
Prior to the trial, prosecutors also said Covlin tried to frame his daughter for the alleged crime by writing a note confessing to the crime from her email account. The email was never sent.
His reported greed didn’t end there: the suspect also allegedly stole from the children’s college fund, the prosecutor said Tuesday, according to local New York station WLNY.
The prosecutor painted a picture for the jury of a deadbeat estranged husband who had sought out escorts and potential girlfriends both during his marriage and after his wife’s death and was desperate to hang on to his lavish lifestyle.
The defense has argued that much of the prosecution’s evidence comes from his ex-girlfriend Debra Oles, the Post reports. Defense attorney Robert Gottlieb called her ran “inveterate liar” who decided to make up stories after her relationship with Covlin fell apart.
He said Covlin was just an easy target for prosecutors to blame for his wife’s death.
“What the state is hoping against hope, that you will ignore the overwhelming absence of proof and accept the prosecutor’s story because of the understandable pain,” Gottleib said according to WLNY.
He told jurors Danishefsky—whose death was initially considered an accident until her body was later exhumed and an autopsy was conducted showing evidence she had died of strangulation—could have simply slipped and fallen, hitting her head on the tub.
“This entire prosecution at the end of the day is built on irrelevant facts and conduct that has nothing to do with proving how Miss Covlin died,” he said.
If convicted of the charges against him, Covlin could face life in prison.
[Photo: Getty Images]
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