Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Family Dispute Turns Deadly

Queens.- New York By AL BAKER

The gunman who killed a man in front of his estranged wife and their 4-year-old daughter used a crude silencer made of a plastic bleach bottle wrapped in duct tape as he opened fire in a Queens playground, the authorities said yesterday.

The police are investigating whether the three bullets that entered Dr. Malakov’s chest capped vicious divorce and custody disputes between him and his estranged wife, Dr. Mazoltuv Borukhova — legal battles that were acrimonious, accusatory and complicated, even in the often bitter world of New York State matrimonial law.

On Oct. 3, a judge granted Dr. Malakov, an orthodontist, temporary custody of the girl, Michelle. The decision was enacted on Oct. 22, when Dr. Borukhova, a specialist in internal medicine at North Shore University Hospital, turned the girl over, even as she fought the order in the courts.

The shooting occurred when Dr. Malakov arrived in his car at Annadale Playground to drop off Michelle around 11 a.m. He parked and got out of his car as Michelle saw her mother and ran toward her, a law enforcement official said. At that time, a lone gunman approached Dr. Malakov and shot three times.

Family members found fault with Dr. Borukhova’s family, and recounted recent confrontations that they insisted foretold of the tragedy to come. The elder Mr. Malakov said he had a conversation with Dr. Borukhova’s sister in which she blamed his family for the loss of custody, and he said she had vowed revenge.

Mr. Pinkhasov agreed, saying, “The result is the most surprising out of all, but in my experience, it has been the most contentious matter, in terms of a divorce.”

On Oct. 3, Justice Sidney F. Strauss, of State Supreme Court, in Queens, issued an order transferring temporary custody of Michelle to Dr. Malakov. Ms. Fass said she found the decision “highly unusual” because it was done without a hearing. Dr. Borukhova had had de facto custody of Michelle before that decision. Calls to the judge’s chambers yesterday were not returned.

Ms. Fass said the judge stated that he was transferring custody because Dr. Borukhova “was allegedly not cooperating with supervised visitation.” She said that Michelle would cling to Dr. Borukhova, rather than go with her father, and that the mother did not want Michelle physically torn from her.

Mr. Pinkhasov said the judge had reviewed three years’ worth of legal papers and determined that Dr. Borukhova, whatever her reasoning, was not complying with visitation orders.

Ms. Fass denied that charge, but Mr. Pinkhasov said: “She had no right not to comply with the orders of the court. And that is what the judge decided, that it was hurting the child to be with her and not to be with him.”

Ms. Fass went to the Appellate Division to stop the transfer of the child, but was denied on Oct. 18. The transfer was made, without a hearing, four days later, despite Ms. Fass’s last-minute appeal to Justice Strauss for the court to speak with the court-appointed psychologist.

Original Published: October 30, 2007 Abridged from the New York Times =>>

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