NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — A husband is on trial for a notorious cold case ten years after his wife was found dead in her tub on New Year’s Eve.
Prosecutors say the man’s motive for the murder was money, but Rod Covlin’s defense on Tuesday told the jury he’s just a fall guy — an easy target for the prosecution to accuse for the murder of his estranged wife, Shele Covlin.
“What the state is hoping against hope, that you will ignore the overwhelming absence of proof and accept the prosecutor’s story because of the understandable pain,” defense attorney Robert Gottleib said.
In their opening statement, prosecutors say on New Year’s Eve in 2009 Rod staged his successful financier wife’s death as a drowning accident in her Upper West Side apartment’s bathtub.
Shele’s Orthodox Jewish family prohibited an autopsy at first, but her body was later exhumed. It showed evidence she had been murdered by strangulation.
At the time, the couple was separated and in the process of divorcing.
“Less than two days before her murder, Shele had made arrangements to change her will,” prosecutor Matthew Bogdanos said. “Her murder prevented that change from taking place.”
His primary motive, says Bogdanos, was “pure, unadulterated greed.”
Shele was worth more than $5 million when she died, while prosecutors say Rod was a chronically unemployed backgammon addict who loved the lavish life his wife afforded him.
After her death, prosecutors claim he even stole from the college fund of the couple’s two children and allegedly conspired to kill his parents, whom he thought would hamper efforts to claim his wife’s estate.
Ron’s parents were in court on Tuesday, but declined to speak with CBS2. The trial will resume Wednesday, when the prosecution will call its first witness.