Girlfriend jailed in murder — (Miami Herald)

Original article no longer available

Miami Herald

Posted on Sat, Mar. 27, 2004

BY WANDA J. DeMARZO, wdemarzo@herald.com

RUBBERMAID `COFFIN’

Three months after Coral Springs police made a grisly discovery — a body stuffed inside a Rubbermaid container — the victim’s girlfriend has been charged with his murder.
The girlfriend of a Coral Springs man whose naked body was found wrapped in chains and stuffed in a Rubbermaid storage container has been charged with his murder.
Martha Pineda surrendered late Friday with her attorney, more than three months after the murder of 27-year-old Ilya Nudmanov.
But her two brothers, who allegedly bought the container at a Home Depot, hauled it to her house and and helped her stuff him into it, have avoided charges. The reason is a 1973 law that prevents authorities from charging the ”blood relatives” of an alleged killer as an accessory to the crime.
Prosecutors are so incensed that they are hoping to see the law changed.
State Senate Bill 142 would exclude the language in the statute that states a husband, wife, parent, grandparent, child, grandchild, brother or sister can’t be charged with being an accessory to a felony before or after the fact.
”I couldn’t believe it when I considered charging them that the statute excluded her brothers from being charged as accessories,” said Assistant State Attorney David Frankel.
But they can be charged with gross abuse of a body, which carries a maximum penalty of 15 years, Frankel said.
On Dec. 10, police say Pineda waited until Nudmanov — heavily drugged with the antidepressants Xanax and Zoloft — lay unconscious in the bedroom they shared.
She placed her hand over his nose and mouth until he asphyxiated, investigators said.
Detectives believe Pineda administered the drugs to Nudmanov to render him helpless , and pharmacy records indicate Pineda obtained Xanax before Nudmanov’s death.

CALLS BROTHERS

The night after Nudmanov’s death, Pineda allegedly called her brothers, Emilio and Luis Fernandez, weeping and asking for help.
The brothers drove to her Coral Springs condo at 2641 Riverside Dr. and listened as Pineda described events from the night before, police said. She asked them to help her dispose of his body.
Emilio — a Miami-Dade police dispatcher — and Luis told police they didn’t want to help their sister. But they agreed to buy some items for her at The Home Depot: a 55-gallon Rubbermaid container, a sheet of plastic and duct tape. A security surveillance video recorded them buying the items.
According to police, Pineda, 44, wrapped a 10-foot chain around Nudmanov’s neck, left arm and both ankles. She padlocked the end of the chain around his neck and the one around his ankles.
She then sealed the container and taped it on all four sides. Pineda tried to place the container on a dolly but it was too heavy and she injured her back.
Unable to dispose of Nudmanov’s body, Pineda decided to conceal it. She stacked two containers on top of the makeshift coffin and then draped a comforter over the stack of tubs.

SICK CALLS

Pineda called Nudmanov’s employer on Dec. 11 to report him sick. He worked as a maintenance man at the Medical Arts Complex just blocks from the condo. She also called her employer, Dr. Ethan Kass, who had an office at the same complex, to report she had injured her back and was unable to work.
On Dec. 13, Nudmanov’s mother, Polena Nudmanov, stopped by the condo looking for her son. Police said Pineda told her Nudmanov had moved out. The Hollywood woman reported her son missing to the police.
That same day, Pineda contacted her employer and asked him to come to her condo. Kass told police Pineda confessed to killing Nudmanov. He offered to help her find an attorney.
On Dec. 14, police received an anonymous phone call from a man who said there was a corpse in condo No. 6 at the Villas of Riverside.
Police entered the condo and found Scar, Nudmanov’s pit bull pup, and Pineda’s small terrier, Fritz.
They followed the foul smell into the west bedroom, where they discovered the body.
But no arrest was made until the brothers finally agreed to tell prosecutors what they knew.
Friday afternoon, an arrest warrant was issued for Pineda. She is being held in Broward County Jail.
Said Fred Haddad, Pineda’s attorney: “We’re going to fight this charge tooth and nail.”
Herald photographer Walter Michot contributed to this report.