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Attorneys pick jury in Forest Hills slay trial

Before a long jury selection process began in the murder trial of two Bukharian Uzbek relatives accused of murdering a Forest Hills dentist in cold blood, prosecutors revealed another piece of evidence that further implicates one of the defendants.

A police report exposed in court on Jan. 28 states that Mikhail Mallayev was one of two men who confronted Dr. Daniel Malakov at his Forest Hills dental office on Oct. 27, 2007, a day before he was shot outside the Annadale Playground. Prosecutors contend Malakov’s estranged wife, Mazoltuv Borukhova, 35, hired Mallayev, 51, to kill the dentist after he gained custody of their then−4−year−old daughter, Michelle.

Although Borukhova’s attorney, Stephen Scarring, said he might use the police report during his arguments, Mallayev’s court−appointed counsel, Michael Siff, questioned the validity of the unidentified witness who gave the authorities the information.

“He first describes an individual with a height, weight, etc. ... and then three weeks later says it was my client,” Siff said just before jury selection began Jan 28.

Queens Supreme Court Justice Robert Hanophy disregarded Siff’s arguments and determined that the report was admissible for the trial, which were set to begin with opening arguments this week, according to the DA’s office. The jury was selected late Tuesday afternoon, according to a spokeswoman for the district attorney’s office.

The report describes two Russian men accosting Malakov and trying to force their way into his dental office. The witness claimed that one of the men appeared to be a “lookout” and had his hand in his trenchcoat pocket in a way that indicated he had a gun, according to the report.

Siff asked the judge to de−consolidate the joint murder trial between the defendants, who both face life in prison without parole if convicted of first−degree murder and conspiracy charges. He claimed Borukhova was creating an “adversarial” environment by putting her own selfish interests above the case.

“It’s clear the strategy of my co−defendant is to throw my client under the bus,” he told the judge, who did not grant the request.

Malakov, 34, was dropping off his daughter at the playground, on 64th Road and Yellowstone Boulevard, to visit Borukhova, on the morning of Oct. 28, 2007, when he was shot twice in the chest. The girl was placed in the custody of Malakov, who like his wife was an Uzbek immigrant, less than a week before the shooting following a bitter custody dispute.

Three weeks after the murder, police arrested Mallayev at his home in suburban Atlanta and charged him with murder. Investigators matched Mallayev’s fingerprints to prints found on a makeshift silencer left at the crime scene by the shooter, according to prosecutors.

In February 2008, police arrested Borukhova and she was charged with first−degree murder and conspiracy. Investigators contend she plotted with her distant uncle to kill Malakov and found that they had talked on nearly 90 phone calls in the weeks leading up to the murder but only two following it.

She also allegedly paid Mallayev nearly $20,000 to carry out the murder, according to prosecutors.

Reach reporter Ivan Pereira by e−mail at ipereira@timesledger.com or by phone at 718−229−0300, Ext. 146.

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