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Former Wharton undergraduate Irina Malinovskaya pleaded no contest last Thursday to manslaughter charges in the death of Temple student Irina Zlotnikov, her ex-boyfriend's then-girlfriend, according to The Associated Press.

She was sentenced to five years in jail with credit for time served by Delaware Superior Court President Judge James Vaughn and will be released in 10 months, said the AP.

By pleading no contest, Malinovskaya is not admitting guilt but is conceding that there is enough evidence for a conviction.

After being tried three times for the homicide of the Temple student, each time resulting in a mistrial, Malinovskaya faced a potential fourth trial on charges of first-degree murder with the prosecution seeking a life sentence in prison.

According to legal experts, a no-contest plea in this case was not unexpected.

"From the defense point of view, she was looking at a sentence" substantially longer than what she received, said Philadelphia criminal defense attorney Patrick Artur. "You roll the dice with those kinds of odds and the deal starts looking good."

The plea marks the end of a three-and-a-half-year-long murder case after Malinovskaya allegedly bludgeoned Zlotnikov to death in December 2004.

Her first trial, which ended in February 2006, resulted in an 11-1 hung jury in favor of acquittal. In October of the same year, the second trial ended in a 6-6 deadlock. The third trial, which ended last November after 11 days of deliberations, resulted in a 10-2 decision in favor of conviction of second-degree murder and 8-4 for first-degree murder.

Following the last trial, the defense filed a change of venue motion, asking that the case be moved to another Delaware county in the event of a fourth trial. Though the motion was granted in mid-February, it was withdrawn by the defense in early March.

They subsequently filed a motion to dismiss the case.

"The defense would have hoped that, after three hung juries, the prosecution would have given up," said Daniel Filler, a Drexel criminal law professor. "That happens, but not often in homicides."

According to the experts, there are benefits to both sides in what Artur called "a classic meeting of the minds" - benefits that largely involve minimizing the high risk to both parties associated with losing a fourth trial.

"Both sides are getting something, and no sides get everything," said Artur.

According to University spokeswoman Phyllis Holtzman, Malinovskaya is no longer enrolled at Penn.

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