The Supreme Court of Sunday rejected an appeal by a man who was seeking to reduce by over a third his 19-year sentence for killing his girlfriend by claiming the crime should have been considered involuntary.
Riad Rushrush, 29, was convicted of manslaughter last year for the 2017 killing of Tehila Nagar, 31. He was also ordered to pay NIS 258,000 ($74,600) to her family.
He had appealed against the Nazareth District Court sentence, aiming to see it reduced to the maximum of 12 years for the lesser charge of involuntary manslaughter.
However, the panel of three Supreme Court judges ruled that the district court had properly considered the circumstances of the killing and that there was “no cause to intervene in the sentence.”
Rushrush was indicted in early 2017 for murder in the death of Nagar, his girlfriend of a year and a half. His attorneys disputed the charge, arguing that the prosecution’s entire case was based on circumstantial evidence. In February 2019, state prosecutors admitted there were “legal difficulties” in their case, and announced a plea deal with downgraded charges of manslaughter instead of murder. A murder conviction would have made a life sentence possible, in Israel 25 years in prison.
He was sentenced in November 2019, with Nagar’s family saying at the time that justice had not been served.
“He didn’t just kill my daughter, he murdered her,” Nagar’s tearful mother told media. “In cold blood.”
Rushrush, a resident of the mostly Druze and Arab town of Maghar in northern Israel, maintained his innocence throughout his trial, though friends and family members testified that he beat Nagar regularly.
Two weeks before her body was found dumped on the side of the road near the Galilee town of Migdal, Nagar’s family filed a police complaint against Rushrush for domestic violence.
Police arrested Rushrush and held him for several days, but were eventually forced to release him when Nagar refused to testify against him. The case against him was closed due to lack of evidence.
On the night of the killing, Rushrush allegedly convinced Nagar to meet him at a coffee shop in Tiberias to discuss their relationship. On their way home, prosecutors say, he stopped his vehicle at the side of Route 90, where he bludgeoned her to death.
Construction workers found her badly beaten body in bushes on the side of the road the next morning.
During the investigation, police found traces of blood inside his car.