Supreme Court upholds murder conviction of first, third wife

Cooper might have escaped justice but for a Channel 2 program on March 25, 2010, about the murders, which caused a public uproar and led to a reopening of the investigation and an indictment.

 Shimon Cooper who was convicted of murdering his first and his third wife and serving two life sentences is brought for a court hearing at the Supreme Court in Jerusalem, January 3, 2021.  (photo credit: YONATAN SINDEL/FLASH90)
Shimon Cooper who was convicted of murdering his first and his third wife and serving two life sentences is brought for a court hearing at the Supreme Court in Jerusalem, January 3, 2021.
(photo credit: YONATAN SINDEL/FLASH90)

The Supreme Court upheld the 2016 conviction of Shimon Cooper for murdering both his first and third wives in a saga that dates back to 2009.

Despite a unanimous three-vote decision on Thursday affirming the conviction for murdering his third wife, the justices disagreed regarding the conviction for murdering his first wife.

Justice Yosef Elron voted to acquit but was overruled by justices Yitzhak Amit and George Kara.

Cooper might have escaped justice but for a Channel 2 program on March 25, 2010, about the murders, which caused a public uproar and led to a reopening of the investigation and an indictment.

A web of lies, scams and a fictional story about a Mossad hit overseas were at the center of the case.

 Shimon Cooper seen at the court room where he was convicted of murdering his first and his third wife, and staging their suicides, on June 28, 2016. (credit: FLASH90) Shimon Cooper seen at the court room where he was convicted of murdering his first and his third wife, and staging their suicides, on June 28, 2016. (credit: FLASH90)

With a haze surrounding the facts, even the original indictment was substantially incomplete, and only referenced Cooper’s murder of his third wife, Jenny Mor-Haim.

That indictment alleged that Cooper was a serial conman who seduced and married his third wife and then murdered Mor-Haim on the night of August 20-21, 2009, by injecting her with an overdose of tranquilizers.

Anesthesiologist Dr. Mariah Zakotsky, Cooper’s accomplice and alleged lover, was also arrested in 2012 on suspicion of providing him with the tranquilizers he used to kill his wife.

Cooper would tell Jenny that he worked in a top-secret capacity for the Israeli security establishment, as a cover for the times he’d disappear for days at a time.

According to police, Zakotsky admitted during the investigation that Cooper pulled the same ruse with her, and that she supplied him with tranquilizers after he told her he needed them to carry out an assassination for the Mossad in an undisclosed location outside Israel.

Cooper met Zakotsky in 2006 and started a relationship with her, while still married to Mor-Haim.

Little by little, Cooper took legal steps to ensure he would possess all rights to his third wife’s assets if she died.

He undertook these actions even though she was only in her mid-40s and in good health, the indictment said.

By March 19, 2013, the Central District Attorney’s Office filed a request to amend its indictment against the serial conman to add a charge of murdering his first wife, Orit Cooperschmidt, to go along with the murder charges regarding his third wife.

 The partner of Shimon Cooper who was convicted of murdering his first and his third wife and serving two life sentences is brought to the Jerusalem Magistrate's Court on suspicion of blackmailing a 94-year-old woman, July 17, 2017. (credit: YONATAN SINDEL/FLASH90) The partner of Shimon Cooper who was convicted of murdering his first and his third wife and serving two life sentences is brought to the Jerusalem Magistrate's Court on suspicion of blackmailing a 94-year-old woman, July 17, 2017. (credit: YONATAN SINDEL/FLASH90)

The indictment said that shortly before Orit died, Cooper told her family members that she was suffering from depression.

Orit died in very similar circumstances to Jenny in January 1994. She was found with an assortment of bottles near her of what appeared to be drugs that she had swallowed, said the indictment.

However, the autopsy found that the drug levels in her body could not have caused her death on their own, it said, and her cause of death was left unknown.

Cooper is also thought to have tried to kill his second wife, referred to as “S” under a gag order, using the same methods, but he was never indicted for that.

The later charges arose from additional investigative activities that shed new light on Cooper’s method of operation in general and regarding his first wife in particular.

According to the later charges, Cooper murdered Orit (the prosecution was still unclear how) and then set up a scene to make it look like she had committed suicide by overdosing. He then called family members and police, covering his tracks by being the person who notified everyone.

The case has been heard by the High Court of Justice before, including in 2013 when Cooper tried to block additional television programs from running programs about the charges against him, but the court allowed the program to be aired.