Twice Convicted of 13-year-old Girl's Killing, Israeli School Worker Gets Retrial

Judge rules that some new evidence presented by Roman Zadorov's lawyers in the high-profile case 'has real potential to change the result'

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Roman Zadorov at court in October.
Roman Zadorov at court in October.Credit: Emil Salman

Roman Zadorov, who was convicted twice of murdering 13-year-old Tair Rada in a Golan Heights school bathroom in 2006, will be given a retrial, Supreme Court Justice Hanan Melcer decided in an order issued Tuesday.

Melcer ruled that some new evidence presented by Zadorov’s lawyers “has real potential to change the result of the trial.” If the position of experts willing to testify on Zadorov’s behalf is accepted, it would be difficult to convict him of being Tair Rada’s killer, even though he confessed to the killing and reenacted it.

The primary evidence leading to Melcer’s decision is a new expert opinion relating to how long blood is likely to flow from a body following such a killing. A shoe found at the scene with Rada’s blood on its heel did not belong to Zadorov. The prosecution argued at trial that it had come from an “unknown rescuer” who arrived on the scene after Rada’s body was found. The new opinion states that it is not possible that blood would still be flowing from a body five hours after the killing, meaning that the heel was coated with the blood at the time of the teen’s killing or very soon thereafter.

Another piece of evidence that raises doubts about Zadorov’s guilt was revealed in an admission by the state that there had been an error in the professional opinion submitted by the Institute for Forensic Medicine. Contrary to what was written in that opinion, Rada’s blood was found on the toilet paper holder in the third stall of the bathroom, which is next to the second stall, where the killing was committed. If, as the new opinion states, the blood stained the shoe heel immediately after the murder, this fact strengthens the hypothesis that the murderer fled from the second stall, which was locked from the inside, to the third stall and then out of the restroom. That is in contradiction to the path that Zadorov showed investigators that he took when he reenacted the killing.

Justice Melcer dismissed the possibility that another suspect, Ola Karbachenko, was responsible for the murder, saying there was little evidence to support the theory. Melcer also said there was a need to establish another coroner’s office in Israel from which defense lawyers could obtain expert opinions. Currently, only prosecutors are allowed to use the services of the Institute for Forensic Medicine.

Reacting to Melcer’s decision, Zadorov’s lawyer, Yarom Halevy, said, “This is a day of victory for justice and the legal system. The path has been long and full of obstacles, but the result restores faith in legal system.”

The prosecution said in a statement, “After the prosecution studies the decision carefully, it will consider a revised stance regarding conducting proceedings again in a retrial of Roman Zadorov’s case.”

The request for a retrial followed an accumulation of new evidence that Zadorov’s attorney claimed justifies a new trial. It includes the opinion of a foreign forensic expert who said that the bloodstains at the murder scene don’t conform to Zadorov’s version of events in his testimony. Another piece of evidence was the DNA test which, according to Zadorov, identified the hairs found at the scene as belonging to a man identified as A. H., who had previously said his ex-wife, Karbachenko, had murdered Rada.

Zadorov submitted his request for a retrial last July after his legal counsel came across a recording of a lecture to students by the director of the Forensic Institute that implied that the manner in which Rada bled did not match the murder as described in the verdict convicting Zadorov.

He was convicted of Rada’s murder in a unanimous verdict by a panel of Nazareth District Court judges in 2010. Zadorov, a maintenance man at the school, appealed the verdict and submitted a request to submit new evidence. The Supreme Court sent the case back to the district court, which reconvicted Zadorov in 2014. He appealed again, but his appeal was denied in late 2015.

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