A New York stockbroker charged with murdering his former wife in 2009 allegedly tried to frame their 9-year-old daughter in her mother’s killing by writing a false confession in her voice, according to prosecutors.
Roderick Covlin, 45, is accused of writing an Apple note from his daughter Anna’s email account to the woman serving as her law guardian in which he posed as his daughter confessing to killing her mother, Shele Danishefsky, according to court papers obtained by the New York Daily News.
“All of these years I have been so incredibly afraid and guilty about the night my mom died,” Covlin, posing as his daughter, is accused of writing on June 25, 2013.
“I herd [sic] her go into her room and run the bath so I went in and argued some more and she told me to go back to my room and I got mad so I pushed her, but it couldn't have been that hard!” the email reportedly read.
“I didn’t mean to hurt her! I swear!” the email went on. “But she fell and i [sic] heard a terrible noise and the water started turning red and I tried to pull her head up but she remained still…”
Prosecutors said the email, which was never actually sent to the guardian, was Covlin’s attempt to leave investigators unsure of who killed Danishefsky, as the probe into her death was gaining traction.
Danishefsky was 47 when her young daughter found her dead in the bathtub of their Manhattan apartment on New Year’s Eve 2009.
Prosecutors claim Covlin put the mother of his children in a martial arts chokehold, broke her neck and then staged an accidental drowning. He allegedly left her body in the bathtub for his children to discover.
The pair were in the midst of a bitter divorce and custody battle, and Danishefsky, a banker with considerable wealth, had planned to write Covlin out of her will the day after she was found dead, according to prosecutors.
Covlin stood to inherit half of Danishefsky’s multimillion fortune, but was charged with her murder in November 2015. The money had been kept in a trust because of a wrongful death suit filed against him in 2011, the New York Post reported.
Under an agreement, Covlin would have inherited the money if he was found not responsible for Danishefsky’s death, if the Manhattan District Attorney said he was no longer a suspect or if six years passed after her death. His arrest came two months before the money would have been his, and was reportedly made possible after his then-girlfriend told police he had confessed that he killed Danishefsky.
Covlin is also accused of coaching Anna to make up a false rape allegation against her grandfather. Shortly after his wife’s death, Covlin’s parents were reportedly granted custody of his children, depriving him control of their $5 million inheritance, prosecutors said. The girl would not go through with his alleged plan.
He then allegedly devised a scheme to kidnap and marry off his daughter in Mexico for $10,000 in an attempt to control her wealth. She was 13 at the time. He relayed his plan to his girlfriend, who reportedly recorded the phone call.
Prosecutors hope to introduce those details to a jury should Covlin take the stand at his trial, which is slated to begin next week. Assistant District Attorney Matthew Bogdanos had been precluded from introducing the stories at trial, but said during a pre-trial hearing Monday that should Covlin testify in his own defense, the jury should get to hear evidence of his “attempt to frame his daughter for murder,” the Daily News reported.
Justice Ruth Pickholz ruled that the evidence could not be presented to jurors unless Covlin takes the stand, which may open him up to some of the allegations, for which he is not criminally charged. Jury selection in the case is expected to begin next Monday, Jan. 14.
Covlin has pleaded not guilty to the charges against him.
“It’s disgusting because it’s clear what happened here. These garbage allegations, which the DA has been desperate to get before a jury has been thrown out of the case by the judge in a very clear decision,” Covlin’s attorney, Robert Gottleib, told the New York Post. “The allegations are absurd, ridiculous and they will have no role to play in this case.”