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Queens, NY - Jewish Wife Who Killed Husband Appeals Conviction

Published on: April 10, 2010 10:45 PM
By:  NY Times
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Mazoltuv Borukhova, here in 2007, was sentenced to life for ordering the execution of her dentist husband.Mazoltuv Borukhova, here in 2007, was sentenced to life for ordering the execution of her dentist husband.

Queens, NY - In a last-minute decision, the judge ordered defense lawyers to cram overnight and deliver closing arguments the next morning, but gave prosecutors the weekend to write theirs.

And after the defendant - accused of ordering her husband’s murder in 2007 and facing life in prison - decided to testify, the judge forbade her to explain why she did certain peculiar things, like buy a spy camera and secretly record conversations.

He also let prosecutors introduce another judge’s scathing order from a child-custody case that called the defendant a “smothering” mother, although that judge and the social workers he cited were not witnesses who could be cross-examined. No one disputes that those twists and turns took place during the six-week trial of Mazoltuv Borukhova, the Queens doctor convicted last year of hiring a relative to fatally shoot her husband outside a playground, in front of their 4-year-old daughter, during a bitter custody battle.

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These are just a few of the points her lawyers have raised to call Dr. Borukhova’s trial “fundamentally unfair” and argue that a “fiercely partisan” judge, State Supreme Court Justice Robert J. Hanophy, fostered a “toxic atmosphere” in the Queens courtroom. The defense includes Alan M. Dershowitz, the Harvard law professor who has represented O. J. Simpson and Patricia Hearst. He is “of counsel” on Dr. Borukhova’s fiery 126-page appeal, filed by the law firm of Nathan Z. Dershowitz, his brother.

Once prosecutors submit their response, due on May 21, Alan Dershowitz plans to deploy his flashy oratory in arguments in the Appellate Division of State Supreme Court, in Brooklyn. That all but ensures that the case of Dr. Borukhova and her cousin, Mikhail Mallayev - which embroiled the close-knit Bukharian Jewish community where she and her husband, Daniel Malakov, a dentist, had been a proud example of immigrant success - will go another round in the spotlight.

Even in Queens, a borough that defense lawyers say is relatively sympathetic to prosecutors, the trial “stands out” as unfair, Nathan Dershowitz said recently. The brief, filed Jan. 12, argues that the trial violated Dr. Borukhova’s constitutional rights to confront her accusers, employ effective counsel, and “even to freely practice her religion.”

A spokesman for the Queens district attorney, Richard A. Brown, who has called the trial fair and professional, said on Friday that prosecutors would respond to the brief’s contentions in court. Justice Hanophy’s assistant said the judge was not allowed to comment.

At the trial, prosecutors stressed that an eyewitness identified Mr. Mallayev as the gunman; that his fingerprints were on what the police called a homemade silencer found at the scene; that while he initially denied being there, cellphone records placed him nearby shortly before the killing; and that he and Dr. Borukhova telephoned each other nearly 90 times between Oct. 3, when she learned she was losing custody of her daughter to her husband, and Oct. 28, when he was shot.

Religion surfaced frequently, and awkwardly, in the trial; the defendants are Orthodox Jews. But while Alan Dershowitz often takes up arms against anti-Semitism, his brother said he was inspired to join the case less over the handling of religion - “I wouldn’t call it anti-Semitic,” just “inappropriate,” he added - than what he called a pattern of pro-prosecution bias by the judge.

The prosecutor, Brad Leventhal, suggested that Dr. Borukhova was a hypocrite because she broke the Sabbath - religiously permissible only in emergencies - the night before the murder to buy a camera that could be hidden in a button. He contended she wanted to tape the killing in order to blackmail her co-conspirator.

When her lawyer, Stephen P. Scaring, asked her why it was an emergency (she had told him she wanted to videotape the moment of handing off her daughter to her husband, for use in custody proceedings), Justice Hanophy refused to let her answer. When Mr. Scaring asked why the judge forbade “why” questions, including why the doctor taped conversations with Mr. Mallayev, the judge said, “I don’t like them. They’re not appropriate.”

The appeal said that “the court cited no law for this idiosyncratic position.”

The dispute over closing arguments began with the Jewish Sabbath. The judge announced on a Thursday that the defense would unexpectedly have to sum up on Friday. But the prosecution could wait until Monday - because court ended early Friday to allow the defendants to observe the Sabbath. Dr. Borukhova reluctantly agreed to violate the Sabbath by staying late on Friday so both sides could sum up on the same day. Yet the next morning the judge announced the prosecution would wait until Monday anyway.

The appeal also contends that prosecutors did not prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Dr. Borukhova paid for the murder, a key component in her first-degree murder conviction. And it pointed out that the judge allowed jurors to hear a tape that Dr. Borukhova secretly recorded, even though it was largely inaudible and translated by an interpreter who admitted he was not fluent in a language being spoken.


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Read Comments (30)  —  Post Yours »

1

 Apr 11, 2010 at 12:01 AM Anonymous Says:

Such a rachmonis on this poor lady. Maybe the organizations should get together we should write 50,000 letters to get her off scot free. After all she only killed her husband. and from my inside information she did tshuva. and who are we to judge. Everyone get your pens ready for a letter writing campaign.

2

 Apr 11, 2010 at 12:16 AM Anonymous Says:

I didn't know she was frum. She looks frum from the picture.

3

 Apr 11, 2010 at 12:34 AM a jew Says:

what does "frum" mean?
That she dresses the way that many yirei shamayim dress?
She had her husband killed and she was mechallel shabbos at least twice when it was unnecessary-

4

 Apr 11, 2010 at 01:02 AM Anonymous Says:

number 1 wadaya mean she "only" killed her husband?!?!? so is it ok to "only" kill anyone?!?! you're right that who are we to judge but what kind of comment is that???

5

 Apr 11, 2010 at 02:17 AM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #4  
Anonymous Says:

number 1 wadaya mean she "only" killed her husband?!?!? so is it ok to "only" kill anyone?!?! you're right that who are we to judge but what kind of comment is that???

He's being sarcastic are you really that oblivious?! What he's trying to say is that lately we as jews have to defend all the criminals that are jewish in faith no matter the crime...

6

 Apr 11, 2010 at 03:13 AM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #1  
Anonymous Says:

Such a rachmonis on this poor lady. Maybe the organizations should get together we should write 50,000 letters to get her off scot free. After all she only killed her husband. and from my inside information she did tshuva. and who are we to judge. Everyone get your pens ready for a letter writing campaign.

# 1 Nobody wrote letters to get Grossman off Scot free. Get your facts straight.
# 2 This woman didn't kill her husband. She hired somebody to do it. Halachically, the murderer is someone who actually does the killing.
Some people have no common sense and cannot analyze the things they read.

7

 Apr 11, 2010 at 03:19 AM mom of 1 Says:

let her rot in jail, she did something wrong and I have no pity on her whatsoever.

8

 Apr 11, 2010 at 04:10 AM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #4  
Anonymous Says:

number 1 wadaya mean she "only" killed her husband?!?!? so is it ok to "only" kill anyone?!?! you're right that who are we to judge but what kind of comment is that???

Ever heard of 'Tongue-in Cheek'?
Or just 'No-brain-in-Head'?

9

 Apr 11, 2010 at 04:27 AM Anonymous Says:

Sorry tzadakus, even Allen Dershowitz can't save you now. Next time think before you decide to murder someone. The wigs, the head covering and you shabbos stories wont phase the judge. You hired a killer on shabbos, now it's time to pay up.

10

 Apr 11, 2010 at 08:24 AM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #4  
Anonymous Says:

number 1 wadaya mean she "only" killed her husband?!?!? so is it ok to "only" kill anyone?!?! you're right that who are we to judge but what kind of comment is that???

I think it's pretty clear sarcasm.

11

 Apr 11, 2010 at 08:37 AM pityu Says:

Reply to #2  
Anonymous Says:

I didn't know she was frum. She looks frum from the picture.

yes she is a frum fake and a fraud lady she deserves to rot in jail for the rest of her life

12

 Apr 11, 2010 at 08:40 AM jancsi Says:

Reply to #6  
Anonymous Says:

# 1 Nobody wrote letters to get Grossman off Scot free. Get your facts straight.
# 2 This woman didn't kill her husband. She hired somebody to do it. Halachically, the murderer is someone who actually does the killing.
Some people have no common sense and cannot analyze the things they read.

yes some people have no common sense she only paid 20 thousand dollars to have him killed nothing to be alarmed by di shoite

13

 Apr 11, 2010 at 10:17 AM Anonymous Says:

In the US someone is innocent until proven guilty, and even then there is a right to appeal. Let's wait until the appeal is decided. If she's guilty, she deserves to go to jail, "frum" or not. If she's innocent, then she should go free.

The only chiyuv right now is to make sure that she gets a fair trial and appeals hearing, as guaranteed by our laws. Name-calling, sarcasm, etc. aren't relevant. Yes, the frume velt in the US is getting a bad reputation for defending convicted criminals, but that's only because that element of the community makes more noise than the rest of us who believe in keeping the laws.

14

 Apr 11, 2010 at 10:43 AM mememe Says:

omg freakish she looks really frum

15

 Apr 11, 2010 at 10:44 AM Anonymous Says:

Anyone who could have someone killed in front of a child and scar it for life deserves to rot.

16

 Apr 11, 2010 at 11:24 AM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #6  
Anonymous Says:

# 1 Nobody wrote letters to get Grossman off Scot free. Get your facts straight.
# 2 This woman didn't kill her husband. She hired somebody to do it. Halachically, the murderer is someone who actually does the killing.
Some people have no common sense and cannot analyze the things they read.

Not Grossman, but look at how people are acting about Rubashkin.

17

 Apr 11, 2010 at 12:57 PM 613 26 Says:

????????what cand of mother is she the girl has no father now and if she gs to jatsil she want have a mother the mother is nuts

18

 Apr 11, 2010 at 01:13 PM Petition time! Says:

Let's make a petition! It's petition time. I think I have a blank one here somewhere. No, that's the one for Grossman. Hold on, now. No, that's the one for Balkany. Here's that Rubashkin one.

Let's claim anti-Semitism!!!!

19

 Apr 11, 2010 at 02:49 PM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #7  
mom of 1 Says:

let her rot in jail, she did something wrong and I have no pity on her whatsoever.

i 100% agree with you. good for you!! excactly, fine you say she didnt go and kill her husband but she got someone to kill her husband that like the samething!!

20

 Apr 11, 2010 at 04:09 PM shemske Says:

Reply to #16  
Anonymous Says:

Not Grossman, but look at how people are acting about Rubashkin.

I dont necessarily believe Rubashkin should go scot free, but that doesn't mean 20 years isn't excessive.

21

 Apr 11, 2010 at 11:48 PM Anonymous Says:

lets not compare murderers with white collar criminals- please!

22

 Apr 11, 2010 at 11:12 PM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #4  
Anonymous Says:

number 1 wadaya mean she "only" killed her husband?!?!? so is it ok to "only" kill anyone?!?! you're right that who are we to judge but what kind of comment is that???

Maybe he deserved it.

23

 Apr 12, 2010 at 09:56 AM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #1  
Anonymous Says:

Such a rachmonis on this poor lady. Maybe the organizations should get together we should write 50,000 letters to get her off scot free. After all she only killed her husband. and from my inside information she did tshuva. and who are we to judge. Everyone get your pens ready for a letter writing campaign.

You forgot to mention that we are not supposed to afflict a widow.

24

 Apr 12, 2010 at 10:34 AM clear thinker Says:

Reply to #22  
Anonymous Says:

Maybe he deserved it.

Anyone who followed the case knows that he did not "deserve it". Still, for someone to write this on a frum website is beyond the pale. What is wrong with you? It is you who decide who should live and who should die? Perhaps a little thinking, or humility, is what is called for.

25

 Apr 12, 2010 at 10:37 AM clear thinker Says:

Reply to #13  
Anonymous Says:

In the US someone is innocent until proven guilty, and even then there is a right to appeal. Let's wait until the appeal is decided. If she's guilty, she deserves to go to jail, "frum" or not. If she's innocent, then she should go free.

The only chiyuv right now is to make sure that she gets a fair trial and appeals hearing, as guaranteed by our laws. Name-calling, sarcasm, etc. aren't relevant. Yes, the frume velt in the US is getting a bad reputation for defending convicted criminals, but that's only because that element of the community makes more noise than the rest of us who believe in keeping the laws.

The presumption of innocence is gone. She was convicted. She is in prison. I do not disagree that she has every right to her appeals process. I agree with your conclusion, but we as a group should understand the law. At this point, unless the case is reversed, the defendant is guilty.

26

 Apr 12, 2010 at 12:17 PM Tuvia Says:

I agree with #13



Just because she was convicted does not mean that she did it. Do you know how many innocent people are in jail, just because the DA wants to “close” the case, because they get $$ for “closed” cases. They do not care who sits in jail as long as someone does. For closing this case up the DA got about $6.000.000! That’s something to think about. I personally do not believe they are the one who did it. There for everyday I daven to Hashem to save them from false accusations and let them free. I personally know the Daniel and his family; they are involved in mafias and all sorts of shady businesses. In the community they do not possess the name of honest people, they are quite fare from that. They do posses money, a lot of money, and that’s why Rabbis and people in the community keep their mouth shut. LISTEN! What do you guys know in order to say anything in regards to this case?

27

 Apr 12, 2010 at 01:15 PM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #5  
Anonymous Says:

He's being sarcastic are you really that oblivious?! What he's trying to say is that lately we as jews have to defend all the criminals that are jewish in faith no matter the crime...

No he is not being sarcastic, he is being rishessdig. No matter how you feel, during the trial there is a presumption of innocence and a judge has no right to stifle the defense or to belittle the defendant. Even at sentencing time, belittling one’s level of religiosity is wrong and just shows a bias which is grounds for an appeal.

28

 Apr 12, 2010 at 01:18 PM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #9  
Anonymous Says:

Sorry tzadakus, even Allen Dershowitz can't save you now. Next time think before you decide to murder someone. The wigs, the head covering and you shabbos stories wont phase the judge. You hired a killer on shabbos, now it's time to pay up.

That she hired a killer on shabbos, is that what is bothering you? Hiring a killer on Tuesday would be fine to you?

29

 Apr 12, 2010 at 01:23 PM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #25  
clear thinker Says:

The presumption of innocence is gone. She was convicted. She is in prison. I do not disagree that she has every right to her appeals process. I agree with your conclusion, but we as a group should understand the law. At this point, unless the case is reversed, the defendant is guilty.

Why is the presumption of innocence is gone? Because she was convicted. Why was she convicted? The judge says because she is guilty, her lawyers say that the judge was biased. That's why there should be an appeal.

30

 Apr 12, 2010 at 07:07 PM clear thinker Says:

Reply to #29  
Anonymous Says:

Why is the presumption of innocence is gone? Because she was convicted. Why was she convicted? The judge says because she is guilty, her lawyers say that the judge was biased. That's why there should be an appeal.

The presumption of innocence is gone because the law says it is. According to the law she is now guilty. This is not rocket science. This is an easy idea to understand. Of course there should be an appeal. If the case is reversed, which I am willing to bet it won't, then there will be a new trial where the presumption again applies.
Perhaps it would help if you would look up the word presumptions in a dictionary.

31

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