American forensic expert to testify in Zadorov retrial

Dr. Francisco Diaz will testify that blood can leak from a body hours after death and that Tair Rada was murdered with a serrated blade.

 Roman Zadorov is seen at the courtroom of the Supreme Court in Jerusalem, on November 10, 2020 (photo credit: YONATAN SINDEL/FLASH90)
Roman Zadorov is seen at the courtroom of the Supreme Court in Jerusalem, on November 10, 2020
(photo credit: YONATAN SINDEL/FLASH90)

A forensic medicine expert from the United States will testify in the retrial of Roman Zadorov, the prosecutors in the Nazareth regional court, where the trial is taking place, announced. The world-renowned expert, Dr. Francisco Diaz, is a forensic pathologist and a senior murder investigator in Washington, and he will present his opinion that Tair Rada was not murdered with a serrated knife and that blood can still leak from a body hours after their death.

These two opinions deal with two of the most significant issues in the trial: The issue of blood leaking from a body hours after the person's death is at the center of the decision to have a retrial. According to the opinion of Yarom Halevi, Zadorov's lawyer, the footprint in the blood belongs to the murderer or someone else involved in the murder that is not Zadorov. According to Halevi, the print cannot belong to an "anonymous extractor" that arrived hours after the murder because the basis of the assumption is that blood cannot leak from a body that long after death.

Diaz's opinion will contradict this assumption, and he will testify that it is indeed possible that the relevant footprint came from an "anonymous extractor" who was one of the people that arrived on the scene after the discovery of the body. Diaz has a lot of experience, and according to publications, he has conducted more than 8,500 autopsies throughout his career and testified in court hundreds of times.

The serrated knife issue also got much attention during the case: while the prosecution claimed that Zadorov murdered Rada with the knife he used for work, the defense claimed that the knife in question was a serrated knife. This issue even caused the high court to return the case to the regional court in Nazareth in 2013 for them to discuss the matter.

The claim of murder with a serrated knife first came up after Zadorov's conviction by the pathologist, Dr. Maya Foreman-Reznik, but the claim was not raised in the first trial by the defense, the pathologist, Dr. Chen Kugel, who has since been made the head of the forensic medicine institute. The Nazareth regional court preferred the opinion of pathologist Dr. Constantine Zaitsev over that of Foreman-Reznik and kept the conviction as it was.

Ilana Rada, mother of Tair Rada attends a faction meeting of Yisrael Beytenu party in 2018 (credit: NOAM REVKIN FENTON/FLASH90)Ilana Rada, mother of Tair Rada attends a faction meeting of Yisrael Beytenu party in 2018 (credit: NOAM REVKIN FENTON/FLASH90)

Afterward, Foreman-Reznik's opinion was one of the reasons for the High Court Judge Yoram Danziger's decision to find Zadorov guilty because of doubt in 2015. At the time, Danziger was in the minority against Itzhak Amit and Tzvi Zilbertal.

Diaz was a coauthor together with Professor Warner Spitz of a professional book about pathology and murder investigations. Spitz himself, also an American and a world-renowned pathologist, is currently on the list of the prosecution's witnesses. In their opinion that the murder was done with a serrated knife, Foreman-Reznil and Kugel drew attention to parts of Spitz's books. Like Diaz, Spitz is expected to contradict their opinion. Another interesting topic that is seen as the trial opens is the three bloodstains that the defense claimed are footprints that show someone walked out of the cubicle.

In the defense's opening statement, they said that "the stains are not high quality, and no expert ruled that they are footprints, definitely not that they were made by a pair of shoes or that they show a trail out." Yesterday, in investigation leader Commander Yoran Azulai's testimony, the matter was raised and a possibility was put forth that the bloodstain on the wall between the cubicle where Rada was murdered and the one next to it was put there when Zadorov put the hand that was holding the knife on the wall when he jumped over the wall as he demonstrated in the murder reconstruction. Azulai stated that in his second confession, Zadorov said that he had entered one of the adjoining cubicles to wash his hands.

This caused an uproar in the court due to Halevi's anger. Halevi claimed that the prosecution changed its claims since the last trial, and on Sunday he yelled at the prosecutors that they are "behaving with contempt bordering on deceit" and "the lawsuit should be prevented from conducting this unfair line."

On his part, when Halevi interrogated Azulai, he tried to stay with the version of the "anonymous extractor" who put the unidentified bloodstains at the murder scene. He attempted to show that the crime scene had been closed soon after the body was found, and no one who came to the crime scene made the bloodstains after the body was discovered. Similarly, Halevi focused on the prosecution's claims that Zadorov knew intricate details and tried to show that Azulais and his investigators gave Zadorov the details during his interrogation.

This article was written in Hebrew for Walla by Eli Ashkenazi and translated to English by Ariella Marsden.