The sister of the woman accused of killing Forest Hills orthodontist Daniel Malakov was exonerated Friday of charges that she threatened to kill the slain Uzbek immigrant's brother.
After nearly two days of deliberations, the jury found Natella Natanova not guilty of tampering and intimidating a witness, according to the Queens district attorney's office.
She is the sister of Mazoltuv Borukhova, who is charged with first-degree murder and conspiracy in the shooting death of Malakov, her ex-husband, after he had gained custody of their child.
Gavril Malakov, Malakov's brother, told police that Natanova, 39, accosted him on 108th Street and 65th Avenue on March 3 and said, "You know if you should talk, you will be the next to go."
"We said from day one this never happened. This was a fabrication and she's glad the jury saw Mr. Malakov wasn't credible," said Melvyn Roth, Natanova's attorney.
Gavril Malakov, one of the prosecution's two witnesses, was not reachable for comment. Natanova, also an Uzbek immigrant and mother of five who lives in Forest Hills, did not take the stand in her own defense. She refused to comment about the jury's decision.
Prosecutors tried to make the case that Gavril Malakov had legitimate reason to fear for his life and not make up the incident. Gavril Malakov recounted how he was attacked and threatened by Natanova's mother, Esta, on Oct. 22, when Borukhova formally transferred her 4-year-old daughter Michelle to her estranged husband.
"She said, 'When God strikes hard enough on your family, you will see he exists,' " Malakov recalled.
Six days later, Daniel Malakov was killed outside the Annadale Playground, a block from where Gavril Malakov said he was threatened, as the father was dropping off the girl to visit Borukhova. She and her distant uncle, Mikhail Mallayev, 51, were arrested in connection with the shooting and are awaiting a fall trial on murder and conspiracy charges.
"Did his brother have anything to fear when he was shot dead?" Assistant District Attorney Brad Leventhal asked during his summation.
Despite Gavril Malakov's account of the incidents and the criminal case against Borukhova's family, the jury found the alleged threat lacked credibility for a criminal prosecution and cleared Natanova on both charges.
Her sister and uncle's trial is scheduled to being sometime this fall. If convicted, both face up to life in prison without parole.
Reach reporter Ivan Pereira by e-mail at ipereira@t
©2008 Community News Group
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