Woman found guilty in killing
Her boyfriend, 27, was drugged and suffocated
By Tonya Alanez - SunSentinel.com
March 17, 2007
Polena Nudmanov awaited Friday's
verdict perched on the edge of the courtroom bench, her hands clasped
below her chin.
When she heard the words,
"Guilty of premeditated first-degree murder," she wrapped her arms
around her 21-year-old daughter and broke into gasping sobs.
It took a jury of seven men and
five women almost four hours to convict her son's lover, Martha
Pineda, 47, of drugging and suffocating him. Ilya Nudmanov, 27, died
in December 2003.
"I waited for this for three
years," Polena, of Hollywood, said later in the hallway.
An anonymous 911 call led police
to the Coral Springs apartment Pineda and Nudmanov shared. There they
found Nudmanov's decaying, nude body, bound in chains and crammed into
a Rubbermaid container.
While Polena Nudmanov rejoiced
over Friday's verdict, Pineda's sons anguished across the aisle in
Kristopher Palomo, 23, buried
his face in his hands. Emilio Pineda, 19, tearfully wrapped an arm
around him. They held each other close, their faces twisted with pain.
Martha Pineda, poised and
confident, turned toward her boys, flipped her graying, flowing hair
over her shoulder and blew her sons a kiss.
The prosecutor, David Frankel,
painted Pineda as an egocentric, conniving murderess who slipped her
young lover a fatal dose of the anti-anxiety drug Xanax and then
smothered him with her open palm.
Her motive? Nudmanov's
infatuation with another, younger, woman, Frankel said.
Pineda's brothers and oldest son
testified that Pineda asked them to help dispose of the body. They
refused, but her brothers said they went to a nearby Home Depot and
bought a Rubbermaid container at Pineda's request.
Defense attorney Fred Haddad
offered an account of a woman so delusional from vast dosages of
prescription medications that she could not remember anything from the
week of Nudmanov's death. Pineda testified to this end.
Because of her intoxicated
state, Haddad argued, Pineda was unable to form the intent to commit a
Nudmanov could have taken the
Xanax to get high or commit suicide, he added.
"It's absurd to suggest that
she's going to have a premeditated design to kill a person and not
have a way to dispose of the body," Haddad said.
But the condition Nudmanov's
body was found in reeked of foul play, Frankel said.
And Pineda's actions showed her
intentions, he said.
"She wasn't walking around like
a zombie in some hypnotic state," Frankel said. "This is somebody who
is committing purposeful, willful, deliberate actions."
Pineda filled a 90-pill Xanax
prescription two days before Nudmanov's death; she went to work the
day after he died and told co-workers she needed to leave early
because Nudmanov was sick; she used a ruse to lure her brothers and
son to her home and then tried to persuade them to help her; she sent
her brothers to Home Depot, Frankel said.
In the hallway after the
verdict, Polena Nudmanov turned to Pineda's sons. They hugged, cried
and rocked back and forth in one another's arms.
Broward Circuit Judge Stanton
Kaplan will sentence Pineda on Monday to life in prison without
Woman told of killing lover,
By Tonya Alanez -
March 14, 2007
Over coffee and cigarettes at
the kitchen table, Martha Pineda told her brothers she had killed her
young lover, her younger brother Emilio Fernandez testified Tuesday.
She then asked them to help
dispose of the body.
But Luis and Emilio Fernandez
did not balk at running an errand for their sister, Emilio Fernandez
said. They made a trip to a nearby Home Depot to buy her a few items:
A drop cloth, duct tape and a 55-gallon Rubbermaid container.
Pineda, 47, is on trial, accused
of drugging and smothering her 27-year-old lover, Ilya Nudmanov.
Nudmanov's decaying body was
found in December 2003, chained and nude, crammed into a 55-gallon
Rubbermaid container in the Coral Springs apartment the couple shared.
Pineda's trial became a family
affair Tuesday, with her brothers and eldest son, Kristopher Palomo,
23, testifying that she asked them to help her get rid of the body
after confessing to smothering Nudmanov with her open palm. She told
them she killed Nudmanov, because he had threatened to harm her
16-year-old son, Emilio Pineda, if she kicked Nudmanov out.
With her long, graying hair
hanging loose over her shoulders, Pineda smiled gently toward her
brothers and especially her sons.
Medical examiners have
determined that Nudmanov died of a lethal dose of the antidepressant
Emilio Pineda told jurors the
last time he saw Nudmanov alive, they played video games together on
"He appeared to be very in an
altered state," Emilio Pineda, now 19, said. "He couldn't concentrate,
his speech was slurred. He stood up to go to the kitchen and he was
The next day, Pineda asked her
brothers from Miami-Dade County to help with an emergency.
It wasn't until they arrived at
Pineda's apartment on Dec. 11, 2003, that they learned the true,
shocking nature of the emergency, they told jurors.
"She said she was going to tell
us something that was going to be hard to hear and not to scream,
holler or make a scene," Emilio Fernandez said. "She said she needed
us because she had killed her boyfriend."
Both brothers testified that
they were shocked, but neither suggested that Pineda call the
Pineda told her brothers the
body was in the bedroom. The brothers denied ever seeing the body.
The prosecutor, David Frankel,
showed jurors a photo of the brothers' leaving Home Depot with the
Rubbermaid container and other items.
They made the excursion without
asking Pineda what she needed the supplies for, the brothers told
"She didn't say, and I didn't
ask," Emilio Fernandez said. "It could have been for anything. I
didn't want to know ... I thought she might need to organize. There
was stuff all over the house."
A male juror snickered at the
"need to organize" comment.
As Emilio Fernandez left the
courtroom, he glanced at his sister and winked.
Woman on trial in lover's
Prosecutors say jealousy drove
her to drug, kill man
By Tonya Alanez -
March 10, 2007
She drugged her young lover,
then smothered him, prosecutors say.
Four days later an anonymous 911
call led police to a grisly discovery in Apartment 6 at the Villas of
Riverside Drive: Ilya Nudmanov's nude body, bound with a chain and
crammed into a 55-gallon Rubbermaid container.
Martha Pineda, 47, committed the
December 2003 murder out of jealousy because Nudmanov, 27, was
infatuated with another, younger woman, Assistant State Attorney David
Frankel said in his opening statement Friday.
In the days after Nudmanov's
death, Pineda offered an array of excuses for his disappearance,
She told Nudmanov's employer he
She told her 16-year-old son he
went to drug rehabilitation.
And she told Nudmanov's mother
he had run off with another woman.
All the while she appealed to
her two brothers, 20-year-old son and boss to help her get the
decomposing body out of her Coral Springs apartment.
The brothers declined to help
dispose of the body, but they did go to a Home Depot to buy the
Rubbermaid container, plastic sheeting and duct tape, Frankel said.
"She went to great lengths to
try to hide the body," Frankel told jurors. "She has the consciousness
Defense attorney Fred Haddad
chose to hold off on his opening statement until after the state rests
Medical examiners concluded that
Nudmanov died of a lethal dose of the antidepressant Xanax, a drug the
couple liked to ingest along with wine on Friday nights, Frankel said.
But this was not a suicide, as
Pineda had begun to lay the foundation for by informing friends and
co-workers that Nudmanov had been raiding her prescriptions and
abusing them, Frankel said. This was an "intentional overdose"
administered by Pineda, Frankel said, adding that records show she
filled a prescription for 90 tablets two days before Nudmanov's death.
The state's case will largely
hinge on testimony from the four people Pineda confessed to: her two
brothers, oldest son and boss, who is a Coral Springs doctor.
When police found the Rubbermaid
container in Pineda's bedroom, it had cardboard boxes stacked on top
and was draped with a comforter. The odor of the decomposing body had
begun to overtake the two-bedroom apartment the couple shared. Incense
and scented candles were scattered about.
A female juror grimaced as she
stared long and hard at a photo of Nudmanov's chained body, padlocks
at his neck and ankles.
"There are certain things we are
never going to know," Frankel said. "What were the chains for? Exactly
how did she give him the Xanax? Why? How? "At the end of this case, we
will know that she just did for whatever reason."
If convicted of first-degree
murder, Pineda could be sentenced to life in prison. The trial resumes
Monday in Broward Circuit Judge Stanton Kaplan's courtroom.
Police Say Jealousy Drove Martha Pineda To
Suffocate Her Younger Lover Who Was Found In A Rubbermaid Container
The Defense Says His Death Was An Overdose - Not
By Jon Burstein - Sun-Sentinel.com
June 27, 2004
An anonymous 911 call led police
to the grotesque discovery -- Ilya Nudmanov's chained, nude body
crammed in a 55-gallon Rubbermaid container in the Coral Springs
bedroom the maintenance man shared with his girlfriend.
While an autopsy found Nudmanov,
27, died of a prescription drug overdose, police concluded after a
three-month investigation that he died violently Dec. 10 at the hands
of a jealous, controlling girlfriend who feared losing him.
Authorities believe Martha Pineda, 44, suffocated Nudmanov in one of
the more unusual murders in Broward County in recent years.
Broward County Deputy Chief
Medical Examiner Michael Bell has testified there's no physical
evidence that Pineda cut off Nudmanov's air supply. Yet prosecutors
have three surprising witnesses supporting their theory: two of her
brothers and her oldest son.
All three gave sworn statements
or grand jury testimony that Pineda, an office manager for a
psychiatrist, unsuccessfully recruited them to help dump the body
after she admitted suffocating Nudmanov. The sworn statements from one
brother and her son are part of more than 700 pages of court documents
made public this month that spin out tales of jealousy, desperation
The stakes for Pineda are high.
Prosecutors could seek the death penalty if a Broward Circuit Court
jury convicts the mother of two, a woman without any prior criminal
record, of first-degree murder.
Acquaintances of the couple
reported to authorities that before Nudmanov disappeared he had told
Pineda he wanted out of their relationship. Their age difference was
taking a toll, Pineda had grown possessive of her younger boyfriend
and Nudmanov had a prospective girlfriend waiting for the couple to
call it quits, according to court records.
Pineda's attorney argues though
that there's no convincing evidence she killed Nudmanov. Prosecutors
have used scare tactics to pit son against mother and brother against
sister, said defense attorney Fred Haddad.
"[The prosecutors] got a real
problem with all their theories," Haddad said. "They have no murder if
you read the medical examiner's report."
Nudmanov died from a lethal dose
of the anti-anxiety drug Xanax, according to the autopsy report. While
it is not uncommon for someone to die from an overdose of Xanax
combined with another drug or alcohol, Xanax alone rarely kills. The
Broward County Medical Examiner's Office has had no reported cases of
a Xanax-only death within the past five years.
Harold Schueler, the office's
chief toxicologist, testified at an April 29 hearing that the amount
of Xanax Nudmanov had in his system -- between 44 milligrams and 64
milligrams -- is consistent with recorded suicide cases. At the same
court hearing, Bell testified under Haddad's questioning that it's
unclear how Nudmanov took the Xanax.
Authorities believe Nudmanov
broke off his one-year relationship with Pineda on Dec. 9, the night
before he was last seen alive. Nudmanov described the conversation he
had with Pineda to both his mother and a woman who had feelings for
him, according to court records.
"[Nudmanov] said that [Pineda]
said, `I knew this day was going to come because of the age
difference. You deserve someone that you can have a family and
children with. I knew this wasn't going to last forever,'" said Kathy
Brouillette, who told authorities that she hoped to get to know
Nudmanov better once the relationship ended.
Pineda had come to believe there
was another woman in Nudmanov's life, Pineda's co-worker Jessica
Palacios told police. While Pineda wanted a lasting relationship, she
reluctantly recognized it wasn't going to happen, Palacios said.
"Ilya was a very good-looking
guy and she was aware of the fact. ... He called the attention of a
lot of women," Palacios said. "I guess she was always looking out. And
she would tell me stories like, `We went to the grocery store and the
lady thought I was his mom.'"
Nudmanov's mother described
Pineda to police as a "controlling and a horrible person" who kept her
away from her son in his final months. Polena Nudmanov said Pineda
made her son give away his cell phone so she would be able to screen
Palacios told authorities that
Pineda liked to know where Nudmanov was at all times and had confided
that she would check his phone messages.
After Nudmanov seemingly
disappeared the morning of Dec. 11, Pineda offered an array of
explanations over the next four days, court records show. Pineda's
16-year-old son said she told him that Nudmanov had checked into drug
rehabilitation, while Pineda told Nudmanov's boss that her boyfriend
Emilio Pineda, Pineda's teenage
son who had been living with the couple, said he didn't hear anything
suspicious the night authorities suspect Nudmanov died. Nudmanov
seemed "very drugged out," though, something his mother explained by
saying her boyfriend had taken some of her prescription pills, Emilio
Pineda told police.
Martha Pineda called her two
brothers, Emilio Fernandez Jr. and Luis Fernandez over to her
apartment the evening of Dec. 11, telling them she had an emergency,
court records show. That's when she dropped a bombshell, Emilio
Fernandez Jr. told police.
"She said, `What I'm going to
tell you is going to be shocking, but please don't scream, don't
holler, don't yell, don't bang,'" said Emilio Fernandez Jr., a
Miami-Dade police dispatcher. "And I just kind of looked at my brother
to see what his facial expression was. We were both the same. We were
like, `What is the worst that it can be?' And then she said, `I killed
"I remember having no response
... and there was silence for a few seconds. And she said, `The reason
why I called you is because I need your help. I need you to help me
get rid of the body.'"
Pineda explained that Nudmanov
had been high for the past few days and when he fell unconscious, she
covered his mouth and nose with her hands, according to the sworn
statement Emilio Fernandez Jr. gave on March 17. She said she had to
kill Nudmanov because he had threatened to kill her youngest son if
she kicked him out of the apartment, her brother said.
Both brothers adamantly refused
to dump the body, but ended up agreeing to go to a nearby Home Depot
and buy the Rubbermaid container along with duct tape, according to
court records. The store's surveillance cameras caught them on their
The next day, Pineda had her
eldest son, Kristopher Palomo, 20, stop by her apartment and asked him
to help her get rid of the body, according to court records.
"I got up and I said, `No' and I
was walking already out of the door," Palomo said in a sworn statement
dated May 5. Palomo said his mother said she felt she either had to
turn herself in or kill herself. He urged his mother not to commit
On Dec. 13, Pineda paged her
boss, psychiatrist Ethan Kass, telling him she had an emergency. Kass,
president of the Broward County Psychiatric Society, said he arrived
at her apartment to find Pineda looking like "a zombie" and Emilio
Fernandez looking like "the picture of dread."
Pineda then blurted out, "I
killed Ilya" and began babbling that she didn't want to go a hospital
and be put in restraints, Kass said. The psychiatrist said he told
Pineda she needed to get an attorney and call the police.
The police were notified the
next day and Pineda's attorney, Haddad, faxed a letter to the Coral
Springs Police Department informing detectives that she wasn't going
to give a statement.
While the four days dragged on,
an emotional Emilio Fernandez Jr. broke down in front of his roommate,
saying his sister had suffocated her boyfriend, according to court
records. Fernandez's roommate, who was also a Miami-Dade police
dispatcher, then told their supervisor.
Court records show that when
police initially attempted to interview Emilio Fernandez Jr. about
Nudmanov's death, he invoked his right to remain silent after denying
his sister admitted killing her boyfriend. But in March, Fernandez
gave a sworn statement to prosecutors and testified to a grand jury
that she had. At the time he went before the grand jury, his sister
was living with him.
"Currently she's just in [the]
mind frame that the truth has to be told on everybody's part so that
things can take their course and justice has to be done, whichever way
it has to be done," Fernandez said in his March sworn statement. "And
she says she's prepared herself mentally and emotionally for the
Girlfriend Charged In Homicide
Suspect In Grisly Springs Killing Gives Herself Up
By Kevin Smith and Shannon O'Boye -
March 28, 2004
More than three months after police discovered the body of a Coral
Springs man wrapped in chains and stuffed into a storage container,
the man's girlfriend has been charged in his killing.
The attorney for Martha Pineda, however, said Saturday that
detectives and prosecutors had pieced together only enough evidence
for one scenario in the death of Ilya Nudmanov.
"All the state has is theories," defense attorney Fred Haddad said.
"They don't know what happened."
Pineda, 44, surrendered to police Friday night after an arrest
warrant was issued on the strength of an affidavit from a Coral
Springs Police detective. The three-page document described a December
murder involving prescription drugs, 10 feet of chain, a 55-gallon
Rubbermaid container and three siblings.
According to the affidavit, Pineda and Nudmanov were living
together but the relationship had soured and Nudmanov was planning to
move out of the couple's apartment at 2641 Riverside Drive. On Dec.
10, with high levels of the prescription drugs Xanax and Zoloft in his
system, Nudmanov became unconscious. Pineda covered his mouth and nose
with her hands, killing him, the affidavit said.
The next day, Pineda called her brothers, Emilio and Luis
Fernandez, and asked them to come to the apartment. When they arrived,
she told them she had killed Nudmanov and asked for their help
disposing of the body. They declined, but did go to a local Home Depot
and brought back the Rubbermaid container, as well as plastic sheeting
and duct tape, according to the affidavit.
Two days later, Nudmanov's mother, Polena Nudmanov, tried to visit
her son at the apartment, but Pineda told her he had moved out. Later
that day, Dec. 13, Polena Nudmanov filed a missing persons report on
her son with the Coral Springs Police Department.
The same day, the affidavit said, Pineda asked her employer,
osteopathic physician Dr. Ethan Kass, to come to the apartment. There,
with one brother present, she told Kass she had killed Nudmanov. Kass
told her he would help her find an attorney. The next day, Coral
Springs Police received an anonymous phone call reporting a body in
the second-floor apartment Pineda and Nudmanov had shared.
Entering through an open sliding glass door, police encountered a
foul smell and eventually discovered Nudmanov's body in the container,
which was taped shut. Ten feet of chain were wrapped around his neck,
left arm and ankles, with two padlocks tightening the chain.
The investigation stretched over three months, according to Coral
Springs Police spokesman Sgt. Rich Nicorvo, while detectives
interviewed people and waited for toxicology results. The statements
from Kass and both of the Fernandez brothers were critical to the
case, Nicorvo said.
"From what I understand, [the prosecutor] gave them an ultimatum,
saying he would charge them or charge her," Haddad said. "As he put
it, it's either you or your sister."
Police Identify Man Found Dead In Condo
By Sallie James - Sun-Sentinel.com
December 17, 2003
A Coral Springs man who was
found dead Sunday inside a second-floor condominium at the Villas of
Riverside Drive has been identified as Ilya Nudmanov, 27, police said.
Police on Tuesday remained
tight-lipped about the circumstances of his death. The cause is
pending toxicology reports, according to the Broward Medical
"It is suspicious because of the
way the body was found, and the condition," Coral Springs Sgt. Rich
Nicorvo said Tuesday.
Police found Nudmanov's body
Sunday night after someone contacted police to report a deceased
person at 2651 Riverside Drive, Apt. 6, Nicorvo said. Police would
neither confirm nor deny a published report that Nudmanov's body was
found stuffed inside a container.
A neighbor said Nudmanov lived
in the apartment with Martha Pineda, a member of the association's
board of directors. Pineda could not be reached for comment Tuesday,
and neighbors said they had not seen her since Nudmanov's body was
found. Nudmanov's parents also could not be reached on Tuesday.
Residents of the quiet,
two-story complex watched curiously on Tuesday as crime scene
technicians in rubber gloves came and went from Nudmanov's apartment.
"He was my best friend," said
neighbor Rafael Arroyo 26, who last saw Nudmanov on Sunday. "We used
to go to barbecues and hang out at our homes."
Police said the investigation is