A man indicted for murdering his wife in October in a gruesome attack that made headlines in Israel claimed on Monday she had stabbed him first.
Eliran Malul allegedly attacked his wife, Michal Shela, in the presence of their baby daughter and stabbed her 11 times. He then remained with Sela’s body for almost a day until it was found.
The defendant had so far chosen to remain silent during the investigation, but denied the charges against him. If convicted, he faces up to a life sentence.
In a statement filed by the defense team with the Jerusalem District Court, his lawyers said: “During that night, the defendant drank alcohol and he does not remember what had happened in detail, apart from that at the beginning of the incident, during an argument… the defendant was stabbed by the deceased several times on the right-hand side of his body.”
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Michal Sela’s family said in a statement that the man accused of murdering her “is not only a cold-blooded, cruel murderer, but also shameless and calculated in his responses,” calling his account of the incident “pathetic” and “made up.”
The family stressed that “several witnesses showed up to testify of his violent nature,” adding that they “trust the court to sentence this shameless, despicable murderer away from society, so that he may never see the light of day.”
According to the indictement, Malul attacked Sela on October 2, 2019, shortly after she came home from an empowerment workshop. She had gone into the baby’s room, and he struck her in the head there. He then dragged his bleeding wife from the room, grabbed a kitchen knife and stabbed her in several places, including her head, face and chest, as she vainly tried to push him away.
The stab wounds damaged major blood vessels in her neck, as well as a lung and other internal organs. She bled copiously and eventually died of her injuries. The indictement said the murder had taken place at 1:20 A.M.
Sela’s body was only discovered a day later, when Malul, who was severely wounded from an attempt to kill himself, took the baby to a neighbor and asked her to care for the girl before collapsing on her doorstep.
The indictment noted the attack’s “unusual cruelty,” adding that Malul had been possessive of Sela, demanding that she sever ties with other couples and female friends, and Sela had been considering divorcing him. She had discussed her difficulty in making a decision with relatives and friends, “and even wrote about it on several occasions.”