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United States v. Rita Gluzman: 1997

From Asylum To Affluence, Rita Prosecuted Under Federal Statute, Courts Dismiss Appeals

Defendant: Rita Gluzman
Crime Charged: Interstate domestic violence
Chief Defense Lawyer: Lawrence Hocheiser
Chief Prosecutor: Deidre Daly
Judge: Barrington D. Parker, Jr.
Place: White Plains, New York
Date of Trial: April 30, 1997
Verdict: Guilty
Sentence: Life imprisonment without parole

SIGNIFICANCE: Rita Gluzman was the first woman to be convicted under the Violence Against Women Act 18 USC 2261.

Rita Gluzman, a former chemical engineer living in Upper Saddle River, New Jersey, was convicted for crossing state lines with her cousin, Vladimir Zelenin, killing her husband Yakov Gluzman, and then chopping his body into 65 pieces in his apartment in Pearl River, New York.

Zelenin was arrested while dumping parts of the body in 10 plastic bags into the Passaic River on April 7, 1996, the day after the murder. He was found by police walking along the bank of the river, with bloody hands and blood on his clothes. In nearby cars, bags with body parts, bloody clothes, and tools used in dismembering the body were found. The fingertips of the body had been removed in an apparent attempt to conceal the identity of the victim. On Zelenin's arrest, he confessed, implicating Rita. He said that they had purchased the tools for dismembering the body in New Jersey, then went to the apartment and surprised Yakov when he entered.

Zelenin said they had killed Yakov with two axes, then dismembered the body with hacksaws and a scalpel. Rita's motive in the case, the prosecution would later allege, was that she feared her husband was going to divorce her, and she wanted to preserve her interest in a computer firm, ECI Technologies. Zelenin was employed in the company.

Rita was sought by police for several days, and then arrested April 12 on Long Island, where she had taken refuge in a cabin for visiting scientists at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratories. She was found with travel books and flight information regarding Switzerland. She was first arrested on burglary charges, before federal charges were brought.

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