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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Jury Trial for Serial Murder Suspect

MTPichushkin sitting silently in the courtroom cage, as he did throughout the hearing Monday at the Moscow City Court.
Suspected serial killer Alexander Pichushkin will face a jury trial open to the public next month on charges of bludgeoning dozens of people to death in Bittsevsky Park in southwest Moscow.

Pichushkin, 33, who has been dubbed the "Bittsevsky Maniac" by the media, has been charged with 49 murders and three attempted murders, Maria Semenenko, a senior prosecutor with the City Prosecutor's Office, said at Monday's preliminary hearing at the Moscow City Court.

Judge Andrei Zubarev set the opening date of the trial for Sept. 13.

Pichushkin's lawyer, Pavel Ivannikov, told reporters after the 15-minute hearing that his client was satisfied with the court's decision to grant a jury trial because it offered a greater chance for "a more humane sentence."

Acquittal rates are much higher in jury verdicts in Russia compared with those issued by judges.

If convicted, Pichushkin would be the country's most prolific serial killer in more than a decade. Andrei Chikatilo was convicted in 1992 of murdering 52 women and children, dismembering victims and eating some of their remains. He was executed in 1994.

City Prosecutor Yury Syomin, who will lead the prosecution's case, said last week that Pichushkin would face 52 counts of murder.

Court spokeswoman Anna Usachyova clarified that number Monday, saying Pichushkin would be charged with attempted murder in three instances in which victims survived.

Syomin said Pichushkin had "dreamed of surpassing Chikatilo and going down in history" and that he claimed to have killed 63 people.

Prosecutors say Pichushkin committed his first murder in 1992 and that he went on a killing spree beginning in 2001 that ended with his arrest in June 2006.

Pichushkin would typically invite elderly people to drink in a secluded part of Bittsevsky Park and then bash in their skulls with a hammer or another blunt object after they were drunk, prosecutors say. Pichushkin supposedly invited victims to drink at the grave of his dog, which he walked in the park after the death of his beloved grandfather.

A law enforcement source who participated in Pichushkin's arrest told The Moscow Times that police found a notebook in his apartment containing a drawing of a chessboard. All but one of the 64 squares on the board contained a date denoting the death of one of his purported victims, said the source, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the pending trial.

Neatly dressed in blue jeans and a checkered brown and white shirt, Pichushkin was escorted in handcuffs into his glass courtroom cage Monday.

Usachyova, the court spokeswoman, had described him before the hearing as "an artistic person" who "loves to wave his hands and shout."

Pichushkin, however, was silent at the hearing, uttering only two words to reporters while being led out.

Asked why he killed people, Pichushkin -- whose confession to police was shown on NTV television last year -- answered enigmatically: "Such is the situation."

Outside the courtroom, two elderly relatives of two of Pichushkin's purported victims sat with mournful but resigned faces.

Tamara Klimova, a small woman with a wrinkled face and silver hair bundled at the back of her head, clasped her hands together nervously as she talked to reporters. She accused Pichushkin of luring her 64-year-old husband, Vyacheslav, into the park, bashing him over the head with a metal pipe and throwing his body into a sewer duct.

"He should be thrown into the crowd so it can tear him to pieces," Klimova said.

Alexander Fyodorov, an elderly intellectual type in large, round spectacles, said Pichushkin "liquored my brother up and threw him into a well" alive.

"Pichushkin has said this himself," Fyodorov said in a low voice, his head down. "My brother hasn't been found yet."

Both Klimova and Fyodorov said they had waited four years for someone to be brought to justice for the deaths of their relatives.

Russia has observed a moratorium on the death penalty since 1996, though it has yet to abolish it altogether, as required by its Council of Europe membership.

With the moratorium in place, Pichushkin faces a maximum punishment of life imprisonment if convicted.

"Pichushkin deserves a life sentence," Fyodorov said. "Death by firing squad would be too easy for him."

Some Recent Troubled Histories

The Moscow City Court on Monday began trying Alexander Pichushkin on charges he murdered 49 people over 14 years.

If convicted, Pichushkin would be Russia's worst serial killer in more than a decade.

Following is a list of some of the world's most notorious serial killers in recent history:

- PEDRO ALONSO LOPEZ, Colombia. Nicknamed the "Monster of the Andes," he was suspected of killing 300 people in Colombia, Ecuador and Peru. He was convicted in 1980 on 57 charges.


The Manchester, England, doctor was sentenced to 15 life terms for murdering elderly and middle-aged female patients between March 1995 and July 1998. A final report in 2005 said the so-called "Dr. Death" probably killed 250 people in all, starting when he began practicing medicine. Shipman committed suicide in January 2004.

- HU WANLIN, China.

He was arrested in January 1999 on suspicion of causing the deaths of 146 people. A self-proclaimed healer and an ex-convict, he called himself a doctor with magical healing powers. It is unclear how he caused the deaths.

- LUIS ALFREDO GAVARITO, Colombia. In 1999, Gavarito confessed to the murders of 140 people.


United States.

Executed in 1991 for a series of murders. Gaskins likely killed more than 100 people.

- JAVED IQBAL, Pakistan.

Iqbal was sentenced to death in 2000 for murdering and mutilating 100 children.

- HENRY LEE LUCAS, United States. Lucas was sentenced to death for the 1979 murder of an unidentified hitchhiker. In the 1980s, he admitted to hundreds of killings but later recanted and his death sentence was commuted to life in prison.


Owners of a brothel, the sisters were sentenced to 40 years in prison in 1964 for killing 80 women and at least 11 men.


Known as the "Rostov Ripper," Chikatilo was convicted of 52 murders in 1992, having confessed to 55 and "possibly more".

- ANATOLY ONOPRIENKO, Ukraine. During a five-year reign of terror up to 1996, Onoprienko killed 52 people. He was sentenced to death in 1999.

- GARY LEON RIDGWAY, United States. Ridgway, a former truck painter, was dubbed the "Green River Killer" for the location where he dumped several bodies. He killed 48 prostitutes, runaways and drug addicts during a murder spree that stunned the Seattle area. He was sentenced to life in prison without parole in 2003 after agreeing to help police find the bodies.


United States.

Bundy admitted to killing 36 young women and was also linked to murders in the states of Washington, Oregon, Utah and Colorado. He once bragged he killed at least 100 women and was executed in 1989.

- JOHN WAYNE GACY, United States. Arrested in 1978, he killed 33 young men and boys, burying most of their bodies in a crawl space beneath his house. Executed in May 1994.


Pickton has been charged with killing 26 women. The women were among more than 60 prostitutes who disappeared from Vancouver's Downtown Eastside -- one of Canada's poorest neighborhoods -- from the late 1980s until 2001. Pickton has been on trial since January 2007 and has pleaded not guilty.

- JEFFREY DAHMER, United States. Sentenced to several life terms in 1992 for the murders of 17 young men and boys in a 13-year rampage of dismemberment and cannibalism. He was killed in prison in November 1994.

-- Reuters