The trial of a woman accused of trying to kill her doppelgänger friend with a slice of poisoned cheesecake in order to steal her identity began on Monday in Queens, New York, with prosecutors claiming to have a plethora of evidence against the defendant.
Assistant District Attorney Konstantinos Litourgis told jurors that investigators found DNA from the defendant, Russian native Viktoria Nasyrova, all over the scene where she allegedly poisoned her friend, eyelash stylist Olga Tsvyk, nearly seven years ago; specifically, on the box that the cake came in.
“In 2016, you’ll learn that this woman concocted a cold and calculated plan to isolate Olga Tsvyk – to get her alone in a room, to poison her, to try to kill her, and to take her identity, along with other valuables as well,” Litourgis said, gesturing towards Nasyrova. “The DNA that was on that container belongs to Viktoria Nasyrova. So on top of everything you’re going to hear from civilian witnesses, you’re going to learn that there’s a cheesecake container that had Phenazepam in it and also had the defendant’s DNA on it.”
Phenazepam is a benzodiazepine drug that is largely produced in Russia.
As previously reported by Law&Crime, authorities say that Nasyrova went to Tsvyk’s home under the guise of bringing her friend and eyelash stylist some cheesecake from a famous bakery. However, Nasyrova allegedly drugged the pastry and watched as her friend lost consciousness, believing that the other woman would never wake up.
“She immediately gets sick. She starts to vomit. She was hallucinating. She came to realize many of her valuables were gone from her room — almost $4,000 in cash, a red purse, a cherished ring, and, most importantly, her Ukrainian passport and her U.S.-issued employment authorization card,” Litourgis said.
Prosecutors say that Nasyrova then staged the crime scene to make it look like Tsvyk had attempted to commit suicide by scattering pills all around her unconscious body.
At the time of her arrest, Nasyrova was allegedly in possession of Tsvyk’s passport.
Litourgis also emphasized that while the manner of the alleged attempt to slay Tsvyk may seem comical to some, the case against Nasyrova is no laughing matter.
“This is not a joke. It’s not just a story. It’s not an accident and it’s not a mistake,” Litourgis said. “This defendant intended to kill this woman and steal her identity.”
Litourgis further stated that the prosecution will be calling a civilian witness who will testify that Nasyrova in 2016 drugged and robbed him after they met on an online dating website, emphasizing that the man’s symptoms “mirrored that of Olga’s.”
According to the DA’s office, Nasyrova was willing to do whatever it took not to be sent back to her home country because she is wanted in Russia for allegedly drugging and killing her neighbor, then setting the body on fire and fleeing to America.
Nasyrova’s defense attorney, Christopher Hoyt, argued that the case was not quite as “open and shut” as prosecutors wanted the jury to believe, comparing Litourgis’ opening statement claims to an overrated and ultimately disappointing blockbuster movie.
“You get your popcorn, you get your candy, you get your drinks. You get your best movie theater seat – and we’ve all had that experience where the movie did not live up to the hype,” Hoyt said. “This story was not the way it was portrayed in the trailer. The movie was lacking. It did not deliver as it promised. I submit to you that that is how the government’s case will be.”
Nasyrova is charged with a laundry list of crimes, including attempted murder, burglary, and unlawful imprisonment. If convicted, she faces up to 25 years behind bars.
Watch the opening statements below.
(image via 48 Hours screen grab)
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