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Defense revisits 2007 Forest Hills murder case

TimesLedger Newspapers

The killing of a Forest Hills orthodontist in the fall of 2007 ignited a court case that captivated the community and led to life in prison for the victim’s wife.

Now five years after Daniel Malakov was gunned down in a neighborhood playground, family and friends of convicted conspirator Mazoltuv Borukhova are seeking new evidence of her innocence and offering $10,000 for information leading to a retrial.

On Oct. 28, 2007, Malakov was walking his then-4-year-old daughter Michelle to the Annadale Playground to meet Borukhova, who had just given up custody of the girl to her father after a bitter battle.

The dentist was shot in the chest at point-blank range by Borukhova’s uncle, Mikhail Mallayev, 54, who fled the scene. Police arrested the shooter three weeks later at his home in suburban Atlanta after they matched his fingerprints on a makeshift silencer at the scene.

An eyewitness later identified him as the shooter in a lineup and during the trial.

Police arrested Borukhova three months after Mallayev was apprehended after they found that she made 91 phone calls to her distant uncle, whom she had denied knowing, and paid him nearly $20,000 in cash before the shooting.

Investigators said Borukhova wanted revenge against her estranged husband after the courts forced her to give up custody of Michelle.

A state appellate court upheld the murder convictions of Malakov’s estranged wife and her uncle in 2011.

But Borukhova’s appellate attorney, Nathan Dershowitz, who is preparing a motion for a new trial, believes there were major flaws in the Forest Hills woman’s initial trial.

“The Appellate Division was presented a picture of an error-infected trial, in which the judge admitted powerfully prejudicial hearsay that permitted the prosecution to paint Borukhova as a person who threatened and then arranged a revenge murder and who was a terrible parent and a vindictive spouse,” said Dershowitz. “The judge improperly admitted statements by Borukhova taken in violation of her right to counsel, which the prosecutor was able to spin for the jury into evidence of guilt and conspiracy.”

Relatives of Borukhova have even turned to retired NYPD Detective Jay Salpeter to assist in the search for evidence to flip the conviction.

This is not the former detective’s first foray into controversial court rulings. Salpeter helped uncover new evidence that led to the freedom of three men in the West Memphis Three case, when a trio of teenagers was convicted of murdering three boys in West Memphis, Ark., in 1994.

He also helped free Marty Tankleff, who served 18 years in prison in his wrongful conviction for the murder of his parents on Long Island in 1989. In both of these cases, new evidence came from the confidential tip lines established by the defense team.

“There are people in the community who might have critical information that could shed light on this crime,” said Salpeter. “Cases like this sometimes are a result of a rush to judgment by police and prosecutors, while important information is left uninvestigated. We hope that anyone who may have witnessed something the day of the murder, or has information about those involved, will call the confidential hotline.”

Reach reporter Steve Mosco by e-mail at smosco@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4546.

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