The head investigator into the murder of Daniel Malakov testified Friday that even though he did not initially suspect the Forest Hills orthodontist's estranged wife as having a role in the shooting, she pleaded her innocence just hours after his death.
Detective Ismet Hoxha of the 112th Precinct took the stand during the first of a series of pretrial hearings for Dr. Mazoltuv Borukhova and her distant uncle Mikhail Mallayev's pending murder trial.
Hoxha recollected the first time he interviewed Borukhova, who was just feet from her ex-husband when he was shot twice in the chest outside the Annadale Playground on the morning of Oct. 28.
He told State Supreme Court Judge Robert Hanophy that while being interviewed at North Shore University Hospital at Forest Hills immediately after the shooting, the Uzbek immigrant did not seem upset and appeared calm.
"She said she didn't see anyone walk away and she didn't see anyone shoot her husband," the detective recalled.
He said he then asked Borukhova about her daughter, Michelle, who was also at the park during the shooting. She told the detective that she had custody of the girl, but a Queens Family Court judge had awarded custody of the 4-year-old to Malakov, also an Uzbek immigrant, six days before he was shot.
When she was interviewed a second time at the precinct later in the day, a still calm and unshaken Borukhova corrected herself about Michelle's custody status, but still reiterated that she did not hear or see anything when her estranged husband was shot, according to Hoxha.
During that interview, the detective noted that Borukhova was not accused by detectives of playing a part in the murder, but she told him and his partner that she "was a religious person and wouldn't be involved in a situation."
"She mentioned that several times and wanted us to make sure that was in our paperwork," he said.
Prosecutors say she was very much involved and indicted her in February on first-degree murder and conspiracy charges. They contend that Borukhova hired Mallayev to come to New York from his home in suburban Atlanta and shoot Malakov in a revenge killing for getting custody of Michelle.
Police arrested Mallayev three weeks after the murder when they matched his fingerprints that were on file for an earlier arrest to prints found on a makeshift silencer abandoned at the playground by the shooter. He is also facing first-degree murder and conspiracy charges.
Hoxha said he recovered a black jacket and scarf during a search of Mallayev's residence. Police say the shooter was wearing a similar piece of clothing.
The detective also said Mallayev was identified in a lineup in January by one of the eyewitnesses in the park that day. It took only 15 seconds for the eyewitness to single him out as the shooter, according to Hoxha.
The pre-trial hearings were scheduled to continue Wednesday and next Monday. The prosecution and defense are hoping to start the trial sometime by the end of this year.
If convicted, both defendants 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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