The trial of a mooching man-child accused of murdering his estranged wife for her money nearly a decade ago is set to start Monday.
Jury selection will begin in Manhattan Supreme Court in the trial of Roderick Covlin, who was charged in November 2015 with strangling financial adviser Shele Danishefsky Covlin, the 47-year-old mother of their two kids, on New Year’s Eve 2009.
She was found lifeless in the bathtub inside her Upper West Side apartment by their then 9-year-old daughter Anna. Covlin, 45, was living in a unit across the hall at the time.
Prosecutors say Covlin, an abusive, jobless womanizer whose life was consumed with competing in backgammon tournaments, had the motive and opportunity to snuff out the life of his spouse in the midst of their bitter divorce battle.
He allegedly hoped to get access to the money she left to her kids — and to what he believed would be a life insurance payout to him.
Covlin wrote to a girlfriend a week after the alleged murder that “(e)ven if my wife changed her will…insurance money (as long as hers didn’t lapse…fingers crossed)…goes into a trust for me,” according to court papers.
Danishefsky Covlin was terrified of her husband and told several people he would kill her, prosecutors wrote in court papers last year.
At the time of her death, Covlin was under a court order to stay away from her and the children except for supervised visits.
“The totality of the defendant’s conduct, before and after the death of Shele Covlin, shows that his primary motive to kill her was pure, unadulterated greed,” Assistant District Attorney Matthew Bogdanos wrote in a pre-trial court filing.
“When his marriage deteriorated to the point of losing Shele’s financial support for his playboy lifestyle, he faced the prospect of something inimical to him: becoming gainfully employed, living within his means, and supporting his family.”
But there was no eyewitness to the alleged crime and the case is further complicated by the fact that Danishefsky Covlin’s family opted for no autopsy and a quick burial, per their religious beliefs.
Months after she was found, as a cloud of suspicion began forming around the accused killer, her family gave permission for investigators to exhume her body for a forensic evaluation.
Covlin’s attorneys say there’s no conclusive evidence he killed his wife and they argue the death was due to a freak accident — that a fall in the shower ended her life.
“It will all unfold in the courtroom in front of the jury,” Covlin’s attorney Robert Gottlieb said.