Court agrees to reexamine conviction in teen’s murder

Court agrees to reexamine conviction in teen’s murder

Justices will hear another appeal from Roman Zadorov, after upholding his conviction for the 2006 murder of Tair Rada

Tamar Pileggi is a breaking news editor at The Times of Israel.

Convicted murderer Roman Zadorov in the courtroom of the Supreme Court, Jerusalem, December 23, 2015. (Gili Yohanan/POOL)
Convicted murderer Roman Zadorov in the courtroom of the Supreme Court, Jerusalem, December 23, 2015. (Gili Yohanan/POOL)

The Supreme Court on Tuesday agreed to hear a second appeal by Roman Zadorov, a Ukrainian-Israeli handyman convicted in the grisly murder of a teenage girl at a Golan Heights school in 2006.

Zadarov is eligible for an additional deliberation since a December ruling by three Supreme Court justices upholding his murder conviction was not unanimous.

Yoram Halevi, the public defender representing Zadarov, will have 45 days to to file the appeal, the court said.

Zadarov is serving a life sentence for the high-profile murder of 13-year-old Tair Rada, who was found stabbed to death in a bathroom stall in her Katzrin school, with slashes to her neck, stab wounds across her body, and severe blows to her head.

In December, a panel of three Supreme Court Judges upheld Zadorov’s conviction in a split 2-1 decision. The dissenting opinion came from Justice Yoram Danziger, who said there was sufficient reasonable doubt to exonerate Zadorov. The other two judges in the case were Yitzhak Amit and Zvi Zilbertal.

Zadorov, who worked as a maintenance man at the school at the time, was arrested and charged with the killing. In 2010, nearly four years after he was first arrested, the Nazareth District Court sentenced him to life in prison.

Much of the debate over the conviction focused on the type of knife used — the murder weapon was never found — and a bloody footprint found on Rada’s jeans.

In his confession, Zadorov said he cut Tada with a box cutter — which has a smooth blade — whereas a forensic expert testified that wounds on the victim’s chin were caused by a serrated knife. He maintains that his confession was coerced.

Tair Rada (YouTube screenshot)
Tair Rada (YouTube screenshot)

Meanwhile, public support for Zadorov has grown steadily, with his supporters alleging his conviction was based on circumstantial evidence, and claiming police framed him.

In recent months, online petitions and social media groups calling on President Reuven Rivlin to commute Zadorov’s life sentence have garnered thousands of supporters in Israel and abroad.

According to a Report on Channel 2 on Tuesday, several of the 40,000 members of a Facebook group called “The whole truth about Tair Rada’s murder,” which claims Zadorov was framed, were recently investigated for incitement to violence and insulting a public official after a post against the lead investigator in the case was uploaded to the group.

The group, which has since been taken offline, hosted a post last week that called the unnamed officer “manipulative scum” and “a piece of filth” who “needs to be buried.” It was shared over 1,000 times before its removal.

Stuart Winer contributed to this report.

read more: