The jury that will decide the fate of Irina Malinovskaya saw two versions of her ex-boyfriend, Robert Bondar, yesterday.
Under questioning by the prosecution - which wrapped up its two-day examination of Bondar yesterday morning - he was fully credible: Every minute of his life in the days leading up to the December, 2004, murder of his girlfriend Irina Zlotnikov accounted for and was in many cases corroborated by evidence.
And he was a gentleman, relating the story of how he drove late at night to pick up Malinovskaya, a Wharton undergraduate on trial for first-degree murder, when she got lost, even though their relationship was over and he no longer wanted to see her.
But the questions asked by defense attorney Eugene Maurer as he cross-examined Bondar were meant to show a different man, one whose testimony is not consistent either with evidence or with his own past statements, and one whose behavior toward Malinovskaya was not the height of chivalry.
Jurors will have to decide which Bondar is real.
Bondar is a main witness in the trial of Malinovskaya, once his girlfriend, who is accused of killing Zlotnikov. The naked body of Zlotnikov, a Temple University pharmacology student, was found on the kitchen floor of Bondar's New Castle County, Del., apartment.
Having left Zlotnikov in bed on the day of the murder to go to work, Bondar said, he called her at about 10:30 a.m. The phone was answered by a woman who he testified he did not think was Zlotnikov and might have been Malinovskaya. The woman would not respond as he spoke into the phone, he said, and his attempts to call back got no answer.
Bondar also said that while he was being questioned by police after the murder, he became more convinced that Malinovskaya was the culprit, but on a quick objection by Maurer, Judge James Vaughn asked the jury to disregard the remark.
Bondar testified that although he had asked Malinovskaya not to visit or call him, she continued to contact him through the fall of 2004.
On the stand yesterday, he read an e-mail sent by Malinovskaya on Sept. 19.
"It is a shame that I could not tame you," she wrote, later adding, "I may not be able to resist from dialing your number," and, "Robert, forgive me if something is not right."
A few days later, Bondar said, he was sitting in his car in a parking lot at Widener University, where he was a law student, and was "shocked" to look up and see Malinovskaya standing next to the window.
"I was mad as hell," he said.
Bondar added that he then dropped Malinovskaya off at a liquor store but that she became lost, requiring him to make several calls to the police and finally forcing him to retrieve her himself.
Under Maurer's cross-examination, though, Bondar was forced to backtrack on some of his earlier testimony.
He had originally contended that Malinovskaya had appeared in the Widener parking lot on the night of Sept. 21 and that Malinovskaya had called him within the next week. But when his cell-phone record was shown not to contain such a call, he acknowledged that he was not sure of the precise date. But, he said, a call from Malinovskaya's cell phone could not have appeared on the record because she had lost her phone.
Maurer then pointed out that Bondar had called Malinovskaya at her cell number on Sept. 26 and that they had spoken for six minutes, according to the cell-phone records.
When Bondar said that in the fall leading up to the murder, he and Malinovskaya "had been friends" and "spoke about a number of subjects," Maurer countered with Bondar's previous testimony that he had told her to stay out of his life.
"You tell her in September you never want to see her again," Maurer said, later asking, "Why didn't you just drop" her?
"How can I drop someone who threatened suicide?" Bondar answered.
Bondar's cross-examination is set to continue when the trial resumes at 9:30 a.m.Comments powered by Disqus
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