Karlik found guilty of all counts in Oshrenko murder case

Prosecutors seeking six life sentences for Damian Karlik; Karlik initially confessed to the murders but later retracted that confession.

By
November 7, 2011 11:10
4 minute read.
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One of the most shocking murder cases in Israel’s history came to an end Monday, when the Petah Tikva District Court convicted Damian Karlik, 39, of six counts of murder for brutally stabbing to death six members of a Rishon Lezion family in October 2009.

In addition to the six counts of first-degree murder, the court found Karlik guilty of all of the charges in the indictment, including conspiracy, arson, breaking and entering, and multiple counts of robbery.

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The sentencing phase of Karlik’s trial will be held in early December, and prosecutors are expected to ask the court to sentence Karlik to six life sentences for the massacre.

The murder of six members of the Oshrenko family, grandparents Ludmilla and Edward Oshrenko, both 56, their son Dmitry and his wife, Tatiana, 32 and 28, and their children Revital, three, and Natanel, three months old, shocked the country in October 2009. Initially, the media was full of speculation that the Oshrenkos were killed by organized crime figures due to some sort of outstanding debt, but police almost instantly set their sights on Karlik as the chief suspect.

Karlik’s co-defendant, his wife, Natalia, was charged alongside her husband in connection with the murders, and was sentenced to 13 years imprisonment last November after being convicted in a plea bargain of manslaughter, conspiracy to commit a crime and destroying evidence.

Karlik was a waiter at the Rishon Lezion restaurant Premier, which the Oshrenkos ran in addition to an Irish Pub named Shannon’s, and a delicatessen near the family home. Shortly before the murder Karlik was fired by Dmitry for drinking on the job and for apparently stealing alcohol from the restaurant. Karlik was reportedly fired in front of other employees and severely humiliated, which prosecutors stated led him to plot his revenge.

Karlik and his wife plotted to rob the Oshrenko family, and as part of the plan, Natalia, then working at the restaurant, made a copy of their apartment key.

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In the late-night hours on October 17, 2009, Karlik made his way to the Oshrenko family home and let himself in, first stabbing Ludmilla to death in her bed. Karlik then waited for Edward and Tatiana to arrive home from the restaurant and killed them both after they walked in.

Next, Karlik strangled baby Natanel as he awoke and began to cry, hurling the baby so hard against the floor that his skull was fractured before stabbing him. Then, Karlik stabbed Revital to death.

Finally, Karlik murdered Dmitry after he came home shortly before dawn, stabbing him 38 times.

According to the indictment, this is when Karlik began making mistakes. He tried to set the house on fire, turning on the gas range and igniting the bed Ludmilla’s body was on. However, he left the window’s closed and the fire quickly ran out of oxygen, after the stove’s auto-shut off switch closed the gas. Karlik and Natalia then fled to Taba, Egypt, to lay low for a few days, and investigators located their car in Eilat. It was only a matter of days before police announced the arrest of the two.

During the trial, presiding judges dismissed outright Karlik’s claim that while he had been in the apartment before the murder, a man named “Vlad” carried out the killings.

Lawyer Uri Keinan said the trial “has been carried out over the course of two years and wasn’t easy on any of us.”

Keinan said while he respected the judges’ decision, he will study the verdict in full and decide whether or not to appeal the decision.

Prosecutor Oded Keller said the Oshrenko massacre is a case “that is exceptional in its severity and there are no words that can describe the extent of the horror and cruelty embodied in this crime.” Keller said investigators and the court “did serve justice here, but that can only bring minor comfort to the family of the victims who are still here today.”

In terms of the sentence he will seek for the crime, Keller said Karlik “was convicted of murdering six innocent people who were massacred in the course of a single night in their home, and we will seek the fitting punishment for each murder.”

The Oshrenkos life story read like a classic immigrants-done- good tale that took a horrible turn for the worse.

The restaurants and clubs opened by the family became central to the social life for immigrants from the former Soviet Union and in the Soviet immigrant community. Their deaths were met by a tremendous feeling of shock and sadness.

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