Saturday, March 3, 2012

Dale City, VA: Judge asked to toss mail-order bride's confession in double slaying

After over 20 hours in a police interrogation room on a snowy February night two years ago, Natalia Wilson confessed to the violent stabbing deaths of 41-year-old Slavka Naydenova and her 8-year-old son, Paul Wilson, court documents show.

The mother and son were found dead in their Hanover Court home in Dale City on Feb. 1, 2010, stabbed over 50 times, their throats slashed.

After a lengthy interrogation, Wilson – a mail-order Russian bride who was married to Naydenova’s ex-husband and Paul’s father -- told police she was jealous of her husband’s relationship with his ex-wife. She said she went to confront Naydenova, and a violent fight broke out, leaving Naydenova and Paul dead.

Now a judge will decide whether or not that confession will be allowed into evidence at Wilson’s capital murder trial.

Prince William County Commonwealth’s Attorney Paul Ebert has said he will seek the death penalty if Wilson is convicted in the killings. It would be the first time the veteran prosecutor has requested capital punishment for a woman.

When it happened, the slayings sparked international media attention not just for their gruesomeness, but for the background of the victim. Slavka Naydenova was the sister of an assassinated Bulgarian mafia leader, and her father originally speculated that her death had ties to organized crime. But prosecutors say a mail-order bride’s extreme jealousy, not mob ties, are to blame.

Coerced confession?

Wilson, 48, is charged with three counts of capital murder, two counts of first-degree murder and two counts of statutory burglary in the slayings. Her trial date has not yet been set.

Wilson’s defense attorneys have filed a motion to suppress her confession, saying in court documents that her “statements were involuntarily made” in violation of her rights. Prosecutors disagree and say that Wilson’s rights were not violated. After hearing evidence over several months last year, a judge in Prince William Circuit Court this week heard arguments on that motion, but has not yet made a ruling, court records show.

In court documents, defense attorneys Edward Ungvarsky and Kimberly Irving wrote that police used “extensive coercive techniques including but not limited to sleep and food deprivation, verbal abuse, accusations of guilt, exaggerations of evidence against her, intimidation, physical contact, threats to the liberty of her family members and threats to her own life” to lead Wilson to confess to the slayings.

In documents filed in response, Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorneys Richard Conway and William Jarvis said that Wilson spoke to police voluntarily and her confession was not coerced. They say that Wilson was given food and drink and frequent breaks throughout the interview. Prosecutors are arguing that the motion to suppress Wilson’s confession should be denied, and the evidence should be allowed when the case goes to trial.

Lives collide

Slavka Naydenova lived in the United States with her first husband, Lester Wilson, and the two bought the house on Hanover Court in Dale City in 2000. Sometime after the birth of their son, Paul, the two divorced.

When Naydenova’s brother, billionaire Iliya Pavlov, was shot to death in Bulgaria in 2003, she returned for his funeral There, Naydenova met her second husband. The two returned to the U.S. and lived in the house on Hanover Court.

On Feb. 1, 2010, Naydenova’s husband and his friend found her and 8-year-old Paul dead when they returned home around 11 p.m. Naydenova’s husband told police that he had spoken to his wife on his cell phone earlier that night and she told him a woman who spoke Russian was at their house and had asked to use the bathroom.

Naydenova’s husband said he lost the call when he went through a tunnel and Naydenova never showed up at the Springfield Metro station to pick him up, as they had planned. When he and his friend returned home, they found the bodies and called police.

According to court documents, police soon after went to the Arlington house where Natalia Wilson and her husband—Naydenova’s ex-husband and Paul’s father—lived to notify them of the slayings and then took them both the police station for further interviews, which began just before 4 a.m.

In court documents, prosecutors said police noticed that Wilson had cuts on her hands, which she said she got while slicing a pineapple earlier that day.

Prosecutors said Wilson initially denied being in Dale City that day, but cell phone records show that she was.

“In the light of the mounting evidence establishing that the defendant was very stoically lying to the police… she was interviewed on an off over the following 18 hours until about 9:15 p.m., when the defendant was placed under arrest,” prosecutors wrote in court documents.

Then, according to court documents and a transcript of her interview with police, which was conducted with the aid of a Russian translator, Wilson confessed to the crimes.

Violent confrontation

In the interview, Wilson told police she went to Naydenova’s house and asked to use the bathroom, without telling her who she was. A short time later, Wilson told Naydenova that she was her ex-husband’s current wife.

“I want to ask you a lot of questions,” Wilson said she told Naydenova. “Why is my husband here so often?”

Wilson told police that Naydenova got angry and told her to leave. She said Naydenova started to scream and ran at her with a knife and Wilson grabbed her hands.

“She was saying, ‘I will kill you,’” Wilson said. “I was scared, I was terrified and I was feeling hatred.”

Wilson told police she did not remember exactly what happened, but, after a struggle, Naydenova and Paul, who ran into the room when his mother yelled for him, were dead of multiple stab wounds.

In court documents, police and prosecutors say that Wilson killed Naydenova out of jealousy and killed Paul because he ran into the room. Defense attorneys argue that Wilson only confessed to the crimes because of stress of the police interrogation and say that police did not fully investigate other suspects.

A judge could rule on the motion sometime this month.

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