Israeli Who Murdered Two Wives Receives Two Life Sentences

The accused killed the two women 'cruelly and in cold blood, and almost managed to escape punishment,' reads the verdict.

Sharon Pulwer
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Shimon Cooper appears in Lod District Court, June 29, 2016.
Shimon Cooper appears in Lod District Court, June 29, 2016.Credit: Moti Milrod
Sharon Pulwer

An Israeli court sentenced a man who was convicted of murdering two of his wives to two cumulative life sentences on Sunday.

The body of Shimon Cooper's first wife, Orit Cooper, was found in the couple's home in 1994. His third wife, Jenny Mor-Haim, was found dead in 2009 in their house in Kibbutz Eyal. The case against Cooper was first closed for lack of evidence, but was reopened as a result of an exposé conducted by the investigative program "Uvda" ("Fact") on Channel 2 in March 2010.

In addition to the sentence, Cooper is required to pay 230,000 shekels ($60,000) in compensation to the sons he had with Orit, 28,000 shekels ($7,300) to her parents, an additional 230,000 shekels to Jenny’s daughters, and 28,000 shekels to her parents.

The panel that discussed the case in the Lod District Court was headed by Judge Menachem Finkelstein and included judges Rami Amir and Liora Brody.

“In both cases the accused planned and carried out the murder of his two wives cruelly and in cold blood, and almost managed to escape punishment," read the verdict. “The accused murdered his wife Orit when she was 32 years old. The accused orphaned his two sons, his own flesh and blood: Benny, who was 8 years old at the time, and Adi, who was 4 and 1/2 years old, and turned Orit’s parents into bereaved parents The accused murdered his wife Jenny when she was 47 years old. Her daughters, Rinat and Sarit, who had already experienced their biological parents’ separation, were left orphaned of their mother."

The judges also wrote that Cooper took legal steps, both before and after the murder of Mor-Haim, to receive the right to live in her house in the kibbutz while disinheriting her daughters. “Jenny’s elderly parents remained inconsolable. The accused did not even hesitate to try to steal their apartment in Jaffa," the verdict said.

"The Bible, which knew how to present dilemmas regarding natural morality and law by positing probing questions, expressed the magnitude of the injustice," wrote the judges, quoting a biblical verse which asks, "Hast thou killed, and also taken possessions?" (1 Kings 21:19)

Mor-Haim was found lifeless and surrounded by sleeping pills after Cooper himself had called the emergency services. The findings attested to the fact that Mor-Haim had taken her own life, and forensic reports determined that the cause of death was a heart attack. But the similar circumstances of the death of Cooper’s first wife, Orit, 15 years earlier flashed warning signs for members of the kibbutz and Mor-Haim's family. They turned to the police. After an inquiry was held, it was decided to renew the investigation. In November 2012 an indictment was served alleging that Cooper had murdered Mor-Haim in order to take control of her property. In 2013 the State Prosecutor’s Office announced that it had decided to file an amended indictment accusing Cooper of the murder of his first wife as well.

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