A man accused of murdering his wife on Monday told a court that she stabbed him several times and he was not guilty in her death, though he was too drunk to remember any details.
Eliran Malul, 35, has been charged with aggravated murder in the knifing death of his wife, 32-year-old Michal Sela, in October 2019, in front of their young daughter.
Lawyers for Malul, who has refused to cooperate with investigators, told the Jerusalem District Court that he denied murdering her, in his first comments on the case since being charged last year.
They told the bench that Malul had gotten too drunk to remember anything from the night Sela died, except for the fact that at the start, the two got in an argument and she stabbed him several times on the right side.
The charge sheet issued in November accused Malul of stabbing his wife 11 times in her upper body in their home in Motza, a leafy Jerusalem suburb.
It said Malul acted “with particular cruelty in assaulting [Sela] in the presence of their baby daughter, injuring her in the head, dragging her and stabbing her in many areas of her upper body, as she attempted to defend herself with the last of her strength.”
Officials said the couple had experienced tension in their relationship, with Malul exhibiting jealousy and demanding that his wife cut ties with partners and friends from her past. She had on several occasions discussed with family and friends the possibility of leaving him.
Responding to Malul’s claim, Sela’s family accused him of being a “coldblooded killer, who also has no shame,” noting that he waited hours to report her death.
Malul himself was hospitalized after the killing, though reports indicated that his wounds were from a failed suicide attempt.
Malul’s trial has been delayed several times because of the coronavirus pandemic, which largely shut down the courts for two months.
Sela had worked as a social worker with at-risk youth in Jerusalem.
Sela’s case has helped draw attention to the scourge of domestic violence. In 2019, there were 12 incidents in which women were killed by domestic partners. So far in 2020 there have been 11 suspected murders, with reports indicating an uptick in violence against women and children as households were in lockdown due to the pandemic.