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Regina Kruchkov, who drowned her 4-year-old son Michael in a tub of water in September last year at her South Tel Aviv home, agreed to a charge of manslaughter yesterday rather than murder. In a plea bargain, Kruchkov admitted to killing the boy and accepted a 12-year prison term.

The agreement must still be approved in court. Sergei Zorbilev, who told the court he was the boy's father, said he opposed the plea deal, contending that "Regina committed the murder in cold blood and full consciousness." He asked that she be given a life sentence.

According to the initial indictment, after the killing, Kruchkov called the police, told them she had killed her child, and hung up. After identifying where the call had come from, the police burst into Kruchkov's apartment, where they found the accused and the boy's naked body on a bed.

Kruchkov's lawyer, Orit Hayon, says the prosecution cannot prove intent to commit murder. "She was a good mother. All the evidence in the file indicates that the boy was the center of her life," Hayon said. "Emotional problems led her to [commit the crime]." Hayon added that Kruchkov had filed alimony and paternity claims against Zorbilev, although, she said, it had not been established that Zorbilev was the boy's father.

The defendant and Zorbilev were not living together at the time of the killing, and in a letter to the court, Zorbilev said Kruchkov had sought to make contact with him, and when he refused, "she sought a [way] to take revenge. To my great regret, she found it."