Roman Zadorov was convicted yesterday of murdering Tair Rada at a school in the Golan Heights town of Katzrin four years ago.
A three-judge panel of the Nazareth District Court sentenced him to life in prison for stabbing the 8th-grader to death and slitting her throat. Her body was found in a school bathroom stall.
Although there were no witnesses to the killing and the motive was not entirely clear, the judges said the evidence, which they detailed in their 450-page verdict, "left no doubt" about Zadorov's guilt. They also convicted him of obstruction of justice.
During the course of the trial, Tair Rada's own mother, Ilana, had raised doubts about the defendant's guilt - though the girl's father, Shmuel, said he was convinced that Zadorov was the one who killed her. The couple burst into tears in the courtroom when the verdict was read.
Ilana Rada said she had deliberated over whether to come, because she had lost faith in the system. But her husband said that justice had been served.
Their daughter was 13 when she was killed on December 6, 2006. Four days later, Zadorov was detained for questioning in the case. He was 32 at the time and was working at the Nofei Golan school installing flooring.
Two days after his initial interrogation, he was jailed, and a week later, he admitted to an informer with whom he shared his cell that he had killed Tair. On December 19, he formally confessed and reenacted the crime, but the next day he retracted his confession.
In their verdict yesterday, the judges rejected the defense's contention that the reenactment was not credible. Judge Yitzhak Cohen said that in his 20 years on the bench, he had never seen the police devote such effort to solving a case.
After the verdict was announced, the prosecutor, Sheila Inbar, said the court had rendered its decision "loudly and clearly," and this should put an end to the "rumor mill" generated by the case. She also accused the media of raising doubts about Zadorov's guilt in an effort to influence the verdict.
Judge Cohen was also critical of the media coverage of the case, some of which he called slanted and unfair.
Zadorov's trial lasted almost three and a half years. Despite his confession, the fact that he then withdrew it, and that the physical evidence against him from the scene of the crime was limited, left a sense of doubt about his guilt among many members of the public. The evidence at the trial included the testimony of 120 witnesses, in addition to dozens of hours of video footage, thousands of documents and numerous professional opinions.
The court accepted the defendant's confessions both to his cellmate and, later, to the police as genuine and rejected allegations that he had been subjected to unreasonable pressure during his interrogation.
The judges also sided with the prosecution on other issues that had become subjects of controversy, including its claim that Zadorov knew seven details about the murder that were unknown to the public, that the marks on the girl's pants were made by Zadorov's shoes, and that the shoeprints matched the route that Zadorov, during his reenactment of the crime, took after leaving the bathroom stall where Rada's body was found.
The defendant's wife, Olga, maintained her husband's innocence. Zadorov's lawyer, Galil Spigel, said the case will be appealed to the Supreme Court.
The knife used in the murder was never found, nor were the pants that Zadorov said he was wearing that day. He said that he threw them away, but they were not found when authorities searched a local dump.
On another issue, the judges concluded that Zadorov had cleaned his shoes and his wedding ring of Rada's blood after killing her. They also rejected the claim that other avenues of inquiry, such as the possibility that Rada was killed by a satanic cult, were not sufficiently pursued, saying these theories were not credible. Finally, the court rejected the possibility that someone else had committed the murder.
Judge Cohen also noted that schools must be meticulously careful about who works at their facilities.
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