Roman Zadorov, who is being retried for the 2006 murder of Ta'ir Rada, "deceived investigators," according to one of the police officers who investigated the case.
In contrast, Zadorov’s lawyer, Yarom Halevy, told the Nazareth District Court that Zadorov’s original reenactment of the murder was not authentic and his confession at the time was a false one.
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The officer, Alexander (Sasha) Strizhevsky, vehemently denied all this, saying Zadorov was the one who murdered Rada. Zadorov, a janitor at the school, was convicted of the murder and his conviction was upheld on appeal. But he was recently granted a retrial, due in part to one key piece of evidence – a bloody footprint at the crime scene that didn’t belong to him. The retrial began two weeks ago.
Prosecutors also submitted testimony to the court Sunday to explain the footprint found at the scene.
Halevy said Zadorov was unable to point out which of the stalls in the bathroom was the one where Rada’s body was found in the Nofei Golan school in Katzrin in the Golan Heights, adding that he learned which one it was – the second stall – only after investigators told him.
Strizhevsky denied this, saying, “I don’t remember at what stage exactly Roman said that he was in stall two, but he described the situation – that [Rada] was between the stalls. Questions were asked to understand what he said, and at some stage later he said that she was in stall two.”
Halevy said the investigators tried to make Zadorov say he came out of the stall next to stall two. Strizhevsky said in response that the investigators had “a few options, and we weren’t set on one of them, but we were convinced that Roman was the main suspect in the case. In the reenactment, Roman demonstrated how he jumped over the door.”
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Strizhevsky was asked by the judges, Asher Kula, Danny Sarfati and Tammar Nissim Shai, whether after the reenactment, in which Zadorov said he had jumped over the stall door, the investigating team assumed this is actually how he left the stall. Strizhevsky answered: “After I saw the film of the reenactment, I accepted it as a fact.”
At this point, Halevy said that during the investigation Strizhevsky held two days after the reenactment, the investigator told Zadorov that the murderer moved to the next stall and did not jump over the door. ”You told him: ‘You jumped to the [neighboring] stall.’ If Roman’s jump in the reenactment two days before questioning was an accepted fact, why did you offer him the possibility that he left completely differently and jumped to another stall?” asked Halevy. Strizhevsky answered: “We asked about all the possibilities.”
Judge Kula intervened at this point and asked Strizhevsky: “Why did you [two days after the reenactment] leave the option that he could have jumped to the neighboring stall – after all, in the reenactment he said he jumped out over the door. You didn’t confront Zadorov with the fact that in the reenactment he did differently?”
Strizhevsky answered: “At that stage of the investigation we realized Roman was a person who provided details and changed them.”
Kula asked: “There was a detail here that came up in the reenactment, that Zadorov jumped over the stall. Why didn’t you confront him with it?”
Strizhevsky said that in later sessions Zadorov was asked about it.
Kula, who heads the three-judge panel, said the court intends on finishing the evidentiary stage and testimony in the retrial in June 2022.
Another issue that came up was Zadorov’s statement to police investigators during one of the sessions, according to which he wanted to confess to the murder – but needed help from them to know how Rada was murdered. Halevy said Zadorov said this because of pressure during the interrogation, and in order to receive a reduced sentence.
Strizhevsky responded: “It was one of Roman’s manipulations during the investigation. Pressure that could have broken Zadorov was not applied during the questioning. Roman had strengths, and he was the one who deceived the investigators.”
Prosecutors also submitted testimony from Zadorov’s original trial to the court, which they say can explain the situation at the murder scene and the footprint that does not belong to Zadorov. The prosecution says this testimony shows that after the body was found, the scene became the focus of great commotion and was not “sterile,” with people entering freely. But the prosecution does not claim to know to whom the footprint does belong. Halevy argued that the footprint is that of the real murderer, who is not Zadorov.