Anesthesiologist Maria Zkotsky, accused of assisting her lover Shimon Cooper in the murder of his third wife in 2009, signed a plea bargain with the prosecution last week and was convicted on Wednesday. Zkotsky is expected to receive six months of community service, and was cleared of premeditated involvement in Cooper’s crimes.
Zkotsky was initially charged as an accomplice in the murder, after the drugs she snatched from the emergency room and supplied to Cooper were later distributed to Cooper’s wife, Jenny Mor-Haim, allegedly resulting in her death.
However, in the course of interrogations, Zkotsky told police Cooper had said he was a Mossad agent and Defense Ministry employee and had requested the medications to carry out a political assassination. Zkotsky also claimed she had not known Cooper was married previously. At the time, she had been in a relationship with Cooper for six years, and had lived with him for three.
As part of the plea agreement, Zkotsky confessed to negligence, providing prescription medications without a prescription, and theft.
“Zkotsky fell prey, like many other women, to the swindler Shimon Cooper, who managed to fool her and many women and men in his life,” Zkotsky’s attorney, David Yiftach, told Channel 2. “Ultimately, the court convicted her based on her confession, for minor offenses that are not in any way connected to Jenny’s death.”
Cooper was charged with the murder of Mor-Haim by poisoning in November 2012. The indictment was later revised to include Cooper’s first wife, who had died in 1994. Both deaths were initially ruled as suicides by overdose of sleeping pills.
In 2010, the Channel 2 news investigative program “Uvda” (“Fact”) featured the case in a 30-minute segment, highlighting suspicion-provoking similarities in the circumstances of the two women’s deaths. Cooper’s second wife approached police and Israeli media after the findings came to light, and told them she had left Cooper after she began to feel increasingly ill and suspected he was poisoning her.
After the program was aired, Mor-Haim’s daughters hired an attorney to launch an independent investigation into the circumstances of their mother’s death. The findings precipitated the reopening of the police investigation.
Cooper, a 51-year-old resident of Kibbutz Eyal, is also suspected of killing his mother.
Times of Israel staff contributed to this report