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Classification: Murderer
Characteristics: Jealousy
Number of victims: 1
Date of murder: December 10, 2003
Date of arrest: March 26, 2004
Date of birth: January 5, 1960
Victim profile: Ilya Nudmanov, 27 (her boyfriend)
Method of murder: Suffocation (covered his mouth and nose with her hands)
Location: Coral Springs, Broward County, Florida, USA
Status: Sentenced to life in prison without parole on March 20, 2007
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Woman found guilty in killing

Her boyfriend, 27, was drugged and suffocated

By Tonya Alanez -

March 17, 2007

Polena Nudmanov awaited Friday's verdict perched on the edge of the courtroom bench, her hands clasped below her chin.

When she heard the words, "Guilty of premeditated first-degree murder," she wrapped her arms around her 21-year-old daughter and broke into gasping sobs.

It took a jury of seven men and five women almost four hours to convict her son's lover, Martha Pineda, 47, of drugging and suffocating him. Ilya Nudmanov, 27, died in December 2003.

"I waited for this for three years," Polena, of Hollywood, said later in the hallway.

An anonymous 911 call led police to the Coral Springs apartment Pineda and Nudmanov shared. There they found Nudmanov's decaying, nude body, bound in chains and crammed into a Rubbermaid container.

While Polena Nudmanov rejoiced over Friday's verdict, Pineda's sons anguished across the aisle in courtroom 343.

Kristopher Palomo, 23, buried his face in his hands. Emilio Pineda, 19, tearfully wrapped an arm around him. They held each other close, their faces twisted with pain.

Martha Pineda, poised and confident, turned toward her boys, flipped her graying, flowing hair over her shoulder and blew her sons a kiss.

The prosecutor, David Frankel, painted Pineda as an egocentric, conniving murderess who slipped her young lover a fatal dose of the anti-anxiety drug Xanax and then smothered him with her open palm.

Her motive? Nudmanov's infatuation with another, younger, woman, Frankel said.

Pineda's brothers and oldest son testified that Pineda asked them to help dispose of the body. They refused, but her brothers said they went to a nearby Home Depot and bought a Rubbermaid container at Pineda's request.

Defense attorney Fred Haddad offered an account of a woman so delusional from vast dosages of prescription medications that she could not remember anything from the week of Nudmanov's death. Pineda testified to this end.

Because of her intoxicated state, Haddad argued, Pineda was unable to form the intent to commit a crime.

Nudmanov could have taken the Xanax to get high or commit suicide, he added.

"It's absurd to suggest that she's going to have a premeditated design to kill a person and not have a way to dispose of the body," Haddad said.

But the condition Nudmanov's body was found in reeked of foul play, Frankel said.

And Pineda's actions showed her intentions, he said.

"She wasn't walking around like a zombie in some hypnotic state," Frankel said. "This is somebody who is committing purposeful, willful, deliberate actions."

Pineda filled a 90-pill Xanax prescription two days before Nudmanov's death; she went to work the day after he died and told co-workers she needed to leave early because Nudmanov was sick; she used a ruse to lure her brothers and son to her home and then tried to persuade them to help her; she sent her brothers to Home Depot, Frankel said.

In the hallway after the verdict, Polena Nudmanov turned to Pineda's sons. They hugged, cried and rocked back and forth in one another's arms.

Broward Circuit Judge Stanton Kaplan will sentence Pineda on Monday to life in prison without parole.


Woman told of killing lover, brothers say

By Tonya Alanez -

March 14, 2007

Over coffee and cigarettes at the kitchen table, Martha Pineda told her brothers she had killed her young lover, her younger brother Emilio Fernandez testified Tuesday.

She then asked them to help dispose of the body.

They refused.

But Luis and Emilio Fernandez did not balk at running an errand for their sister, Emilio Fernandez said. They made a trip to a nearby Home Depot to buy her a few items: A drop cloth, duct tape and a 55-gallon Rubbermaid container.

Pineda, 47, is on trial, accused of drugging and smothering her 27-year-old lover, Ilya Nudmanov.

Nudmanov's decaying body was found in December 2003, chained and nude, crammed into a 55-gallon Rubbermaid container in the Coral Springs apartment the couple shared.

Pineda's trial became a family affair Tuesday, with her brothers and eldest son, Kristopher Palomo, 23, testifying that she asked them to help her get rid of the body after confessing to smothering Nudmanov with her open palm. She told them she killed Nudmanov, because he had threatened to harm her 16-year-old son, Emilio Pineda, if she kicked Nudmanov out.

With her long, graying hair hanging loose over her shoulders, Pineda smiled gently toward her brothers and especially her sons.

Medical examiners have determined that Nudmanov died of a lethal dose of the antidepressant Xanax.

Emilio Pineda told jurors the last time he saw Nudmanov alive, they played video games together on the couch.

"He appeared to be very in an altered state," Emilio Pineda, now 19, said. "He couldn't concentrate, his speech was slurred. He stood up to go to the kitchen and he was woozy."

The next day, Pineda asked her brothers from Miami-Dade County to help with an emergency.

It wasn't until they arrived at Pineda's apartment on Dec. 11, 2003, that they learned the true, shocking nature of the emergency, they told jurors.

"She said she was going to tell us something that was going to be hard to hear and not to scream, holler or make a scene," Emilio Fernandez said. "She said she needed us because she had killed her boyfriend."

Both brothers testified that they were shocked, but neither suggested that Pineda call the authorities.

Pineda told her brothers the body was in the bedroom. The brothers denied ever seeing the body.

The prosecutor, David Frankel, showed jurors a photo of the brothers' leaving Home Depot with the Rubbermaid container and other items.

They made the excursion without asking Pineda what she needed the supplies for, the brothers told jurors.

"She didn't say, and I didn't ask," Emilio Fernandez said. "It could have been for anything. I didn't want to know ... I thought she might need to organize. There was stuff all over the house."

A male juror snickered at the "need to organize" comment.

As Emilio Fernandez left the courtroom, he glanced at his sister and winked.


Woman on trial in lover's death

Prosecutors say jealousy drove her to drug, kill man

By Tonya Alanez -

March 10, 2007

She drugged her young lover, then smothered him, prosecutors say.

Four days later an anonymous 911 call led police to a grisly discovery in Apartment 6 at the Villas of Riverside Drive: Ilya Nudmanov's nude body, bound with a chain and crammed into a 55-gallon Rubbermaid container.

Martha Pineda, 47, committed the December 2003 murder out of jealousy because Nudmanov, 27, was infatuated with another, younger woman, Assistant State Attorney David Frankel said in his opening statement Friday.

In the days after Nudmanov's death, Pineda offered an array of excuses for his disappearance, Frankel said.

She told Nudmanov's employer he was sick.

She told her 16-year-old son he went to drug rehabilitation.

And she told Nudmanov's mother he had run off with another woman.

All the while she appealed to her two brothers, 20-year-old son and boss to help her get the decomposing body out of her Coral Springs apartment.

The brothers declined to help dispose of the body, but they did go to a Home Depot to buy the Rubbermaid container, plastic sheeting and duct tape, Frankel said.

"She went to great lengths to try to hide the body," Frankel told jurors. "She has the consciousness of guilt."

Defense attorney Fred Haddad chose to hold off on his opening statement until after the state rests its case.

Medical examiners concluded that Nudmanov died of a lethal dose of the antidepressant Xanax, a drug the couple liked to ingest along with wine on Friday nights, Frankel said.

But this was not a suicide, as Pineda had begun to lay the foundation for by informing friends and co-workers that Nudmanov had been raiding her prescriptions and abusing them, Frankel said. This was an "intentional overdose" administered by Pineda, Frankel said, adding that records show she filled a prescription for 90 tablets two days before Nudmanov's death.

The state's case will largely hinge on testimony from the four people Pineda confessed to: her two brothers, oldest son and boss, who is a Coral Springs doctor.

When police found the Rubbermaid container in Pineda's bedroom, it had cardboard boxes stacked on top and was draped with a comforter. The odor of the decomposing body had begun to overtake the two-bedroom apartment the couple shared. Incense and scented candles were scattered about.

A female juror grimaced as she stared long and hard at a photo of Nudmanov's chained body, padlocks at his neck and ankles.

"There are certain things we are never going to know," Frankel said. "What were the chains for? Exactly how did she give him the Xanax? Why? How? "At the end of this case, we will know that she just did for whatever reason."

If convicted of first-degree murder, Pineda could be sentenced to life in prison. The trial resumes Monday in Broward Circuit Judge Stanton Kaplan's courtroom.


Police Say Jealousy Drove Martha Pineda To Suffocate Her Younger Lover Who Was Found In A Rubbermaid Container

The Defense Says His Death Was An Overdose - Not Murder

By Jon Burstein -

June 27, 2004

An anonymous 911 call led police to the grotesque discovery -- Ilya Nudmanov's chained, nude body crammed in a 55-gallon Rubbermaid container in the Coral Springs bedroom the maintenance man shared with his girlfriend.

While an autopsy found Nudmanov, 27, died of a prescription drug overdose, police concluded after a three-month investigation that he died violently Dec. 10 at the hands of a jealous, controlling girlfriend who feared losing him. Authorities believe Martha Pineda, 44, suffocated Nudmanov in one of the more unusual murders in Broward County in recent years.

Broward County Deputy Chief Medical Examiner Michael Bell has testified there's no physical evidence that Pineda cut off Nudmanov's air supply. Yet prosecutors have three surprising witnesses supporting their theory: two of her brothers and her oldest son.

All three gave sworn statements or grand jury testimony that Pineda, an office manager for a psychiatrist, unsuccessfully recruited them to help dump the body after she admitted suffocating Nudmanov. The sworn statements from one brother and her son are part of more than 700 pages of court documents made public this month that spin out tales of jealousy, desperation and drugs.

The stakes for Pineda are high. Prosecutors could seek the death penalty if a Broward Circuit Court jury convicts the mother of two, a woman without any prior criminal record, of first-degree murder.

Acquaintances of the couple reported to authorities that before Nudmanov disappeared he had told Pineda he wanted out of their relationship. Their age difference was taking a toll, Pineda had grown possessive of her younger boyfriend and Nudmanov had a prospective girlfriend waiting for the couple to call it quits, according to court records.

Pineda's attorney argues though that there's no convincing evidence she killed Nudmanov. Prosecutors have used scare tactics to pit son against mother and brother against sister, said defense attorney Fred Haddad.

"[The prosecutors] got a real problem with all their theories," Haddad said. "They have no murder if you read the medical examiner's report."

Nudmanov died from a lethal dose of the anti-anxiety drug Xanax, according to the autopsy report. While it is not uncommon for someone to die from an overdose of Xanax combined with another drug or alcohol, Xanax alone rarely kills. The Broward County Medical Examiner's Office has had no reported cases of a Xanax-only death within the past five years.

Harold Schueler, the office's chief toxicologist, testified at an April 29 hearing that the amount of Xanax Nudmanov had in his system -- between 44 milligrams and 64 milligrams -- is consistent with recorded suicide cases. At the same court hearing, Bell testified under Haddad's questioning that it's unclear how Nudmanov took the Xanax.

Authorities believe Nudmanov broke off his one-year relationship with Pineda on Dec. 9, the night before he was last seen alive. Nudmanov described the conversation he had with Pineda to both his mother and a woman who had feelings for him, according to court records.

"[Nudmanov] said that [Pineda] said, `I knew this day was going to come because of the age difference. You deserve someone that you can have a family and children with. I knew this wasn't going to last forever,'" said Kathy Brouillette, who told authorities that she hoped to get to know Nudmanov better once the relationship ended.

Pineda had come to believe there was another woman in Nudmanov's life, Pineda's co-worker Jessica Palacios told police. While Pineda wanted a lasting relationship, she reluctantly recognized it wasn't going to happen, Palacios said.

"Ilya was a very good-looking guy and she was aware of the fact. ... He called the attention of a lot of women," Palacios said. "I guess she was always looking out. And she would tell me stories like, `We went to the grocery store and the lady thought I was his mom.'"

Nudmanov's mother described Pineda to police as a "controlling and a horrible person" who kept her away from her son in his final months. Polena Nudmanov said Pineda made her son give away his cell phone so she would be able to screen calls.

Palacios told authorities that Pineda liked to know where Nudmanov was at all times and had confided that she would check his phone messages.

After Nudmanov seemingly disappeared the morning of Dec. 11, Pineda offered an array of explanations over the next four days, court records show. Pineda's 16-year-old son said she told him that Nudmanov had checked into drug rehabilitation, while Pineda told Nudmanov's boss that her boyfriend was sick.

Emilio Pineda, Pineda's teenage son who had been living with the couple, said he didn't hear anything suspicious the night authorities suspect Nudmanov died. Nudmanov seemed "very drugged out," though, something his mother explained by saying her boyfriend had taken some of her prescription pills, Emilio Pineda told police.

Martha Pineda called her two brothers, Emilio Fernandez Jr. and Luis Fernandez over to her apartment the evening of Dec. 11, telling them she had an emergency, court records show. That's when she dropped a bombshell, Emilio Fernandez Jr. told police.

"She said, `What I'm going to tell you is going to be shocking, but please don't scream, don't holler, don't yell, don't bang,'" said Emilio Fernandez Jr., a Miami-Dade police dispatcher. "And I just kind of looked at my brother to see what his facial expression was. We were both the same. We were like, `What is the worst that it can be?' And then she said, `I killed Ilya.'"

"I remember having no response ... and there was silence for a few seconds. And she said, `The reason why I called you is because I need your help. I need you to help me get rid of the body.'"

Pineda explained that Nudmanov had been high for the past few days and when he fell unconscious, she covered his mouth and nose with her hands, according to the sworn statement Emilio Fernandez Jr. gave on March 17. She said she had to kill Nudmanov because he had threatened to kill her youngest son if she kicked him out of the apartment, her brother said.

Both brothers adamantly refused to dump the body, but ended up agreeing to go to a nearby Home Depot and buy the Rubbermaid container along with duct tape, according to court records. The store's surveillance cameras caught them on their shopping trip.

The next day, Pineda had her eldest son, Kristopher Palomo, 20, stop by her apartment and asked him to help her get rid of the body, according to court records.

"I got up and I said, `No' and I was walking already out of the door," Palomo said in a sworn statement dated May 5. Palomo said his mother said she felt she either had to turn herself in or kill herself. He urged his mother not to commit suicide.

On Dec. 13, Pineda paged her boss, psychiatrist Ethan Kass, telling him she had an emergency. Kass, president of the Broward County Psychiatric Society, said he arrived at her apartment to find Pineda looking like "a zombie" and Emilio Fernandez looking like "the picture of dread."

Pineda then blurted out, "I killed Ilya" and began babbling that she didn't want to go a hospital and be put in restraints, Kass said. The psychiatrist said he told Pineda she needed to get an attorney and call the police.

The police were notified the next day and Pineda's attorney, Haddad, faxed a letter to the Coral Springs Police Department informing detectives that she wasn't going to give a statement.

While the four days dragged on, an emotional Emilio Fernandez Jr. broke down in front of his roommate, saying his sister had suffocated her boyfriend, according to court records. Fernandez's roommate, who was also a Miami-Dade police dispatcher, then told their supervisor.

Court records show that when police initially attempted to interview Emilio Fernandez Jr. about Nudmanov's death, he invoked his right to remain silent after denying his sister admitted killing her boyfriend. But in March, Fernandez gave a sworn statement to prosecutors and testified to a grand jury that she had. At the time he went before the grand jury, his sister was living with him.

"Currently she's just in [the] mind frame that the truth has to be told on everybody's part so that things can take their course and justice has to be done, whichever way it has to be done," Fernandez said in his March sworn statement. "And she says she's prepared herself mentally and emotionally for the outcome."


Girlfriend Charged In Homicide

Suspect In Grisly Springs Killing Gives Herself Up

By Kevin Smith and Shannon O'Boye -

March 28, 2004

More than three months after police discovered the body of a Coral Springs man wrapped in chains and stuffed into a storage container, the man's girlfriend has been charged in his killing.

The attorney for Martha Pineda, however, said Saturday that detectives and prosecutors had pieced together only enough evidence for one scenario in the death of Ilya Nudmanov.

"All the state has is theories," defense attorney Fred Haddad said. "They don't know what happened."

Pineda, 44, surrendered to police Friday night after an arrest warrant was issued on the strength of an affidavit from a Coral Springs Police detective. The three-page document described a December murder involving prescription drugs, 10 feet of chain, a 55-gallon Rubbermaid container and three siblings.

According to the affidavit, Pineda and Nudmanov were living together but the relationship had soured and Nudmanov was planning to move out of the couple's apartment at 2641 Riverside Drive. On Dec. 10, with high levels of the prescription drugs Xanax and Zoloft in his system, Nudmanov became unconscious. Pineda covered his mouth and nose with her hands, killing him, the affidavit said.

The next day, Pineda called her brothers, Emilio and Luis Fernandez, and asked them to come to the apartment. When they arrived, she told them she had killed Nudmanov and asked for their help disposing of the body. They declined, but did go to a local Home Depot and brought back the Rubbermaid container, as well as plastic sheeting and duct tape, according to the affidavit.

Two days later, Nudmanov's mother, Polena Nudmanov, tried to visit her son at the apartment, but Pineda told her he had moved out. Later that day, Dec. 13, Polena Nudmanov filed a missing persons report on her son with the Coral Springs Police Department.

The same day, the affidavit said, Pineda asked her employer, osteopathic physician Dr. Ethan Kass, to come to the apartment. There, with one brother present, she told Kass she had killed Nudmanov. Kass told her he would help her find an attorney. The next day, Coral Springs Police received an anonymous phone call reporting a body in the second-floor apartment Pineda and Nudmanov had shared.

Entering through an open sliding glass door, police encountered a foul smell and eventually discovered Nudmanov's body in the container, which was taped shut. Ten feet of chain were wrapped around his neck, left arm and ankles, with two padlocks tightening the chain.

The investigation stretched over three months, according to Coral Springs Police spokesman Sgt. Rich Nicorvo, while detectives interviewed people and waited for toxicology results. The statements from Kass and both of the Fernandez brothers were critical to the case, Nicorvo said.

"From what I understand, [the prosecutor] gave them an ultimatum, saying he would charge them or charge her," Haddad said. "As he put it, it's either you or your sister."


Police Identify Man Found Dead In Condo

By Sallie James -

December 17, 2003

A Coral Springs man who was found dead Sunday inside a second-floor condominium at the Villas of Riverside Drive has been identified as Ilya Nudmanov, 27, police said.

Police on Tuesday remained tight-lipped about the circumstances of his death. The cause is pending toxicology reports, according to the Broward Medical Examiner's Office.

"It is suspicious because of the way the body was found, and the condition," Coral Springs Sgt. Rich Nicorvo said Tuesday.

Police found Nudmanov's body Sunday night after someone contacted police to report a deceased person at 2651 Riverside Drive, Apt. 6, Nicorvo said. Police would neither confirm nor deny a published report that Nudmanov's body was found stuffed inside a container.

A neighbor said Nudmanov lived in the apartment with Martha Pineda, a member of the association's board of directors. Pineda could not be reached for comment Tuesday, and neighbors said they had not seen her since Nudmanov's body was found. Nudmanov's parents also could not be reached on Tuesday.

Residents of the quiet, two-story complex watched curiously on Tuesday as crime scene technicians in rubber gloves came and went from Nudmanov's apartment.

"He was my best friend," said neighbor Rafael Arroyo 26, who last saw Nudmanov on Sunday. "We used to go to barbecues and hang out at our homes."

Police said the investigation is continuing.



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