Defendant pleads innocent in Ennis Cosby killing
LOS ANGELES (AP) _ The tall, slender teen accused of shooting Ennis Cosby in the head while he changed a flat tire said little as lawyers entered an innocent plea for him in court.
Michael Markhasev, 18, who came to this country from the Ukraine about eight years ago, said only ``Yes, sir,″ Friday when asked by the judge if he understood his right to a speedy preliminary hearing.
Markhasev stood in a corner of a glass-shielded area of the courtroom with two sheriff’s deputies close by.
Outside court, his defense team expressed condolences to the Cosby family.
``We want to make it clear we want to conduct these proceedings with dignity and restraint,″ Charles Lindner said.
He called the case ``very difficult and delicate,″ but said the legal team, which has handled eight death penalty cases, would give Markhasev the best defense possible.
Asked whether they might seek to move the case out of Los Angeles due to its notoriety, Lindner said, ``To what planet? Is there anybody in the western world not familiar with the Cosby family?″
Cosby, 27, son of entertainer Bill Cosby, was a doctoral candidate in special education at Columbia University in New York. He was killed on Jan. 16 while changing a flat on his luxury convertible on a road just off a highway in Sepulveda Pass.
Markhasev is charged with murder, but prosecutors also allege a special circumstance of murder during attempted robbery, which could allow the death penalty.
Media lawyer Kelli Sager argued in vain to allow cameras to photograph Markhasev, noting that police released a picture when he was arrested. But Municipal Judge Jacob Adajian refused.
``For reasons that I cannot go into at this time, counsel for both sides do not want pictures taken (of the defendant).″
Neither Markhasev’s relatives nor members of the Cosby family attended the brief hearing. Markhasev agreed to delay further proceedings until April 18, at which time a preliminary hearing date will be set.
Markhasev and his mother came to the United States about eight years ago from Lvov, Ukraine.
Markhasev was arrested March 12 at the North Hollywood apartment where he and his mother lived. He had a job as a cashier at a plant and pottery store near his home.
In late 1995, Markhasev spent six months in a juvenile probation camp. His juvenile record includes a conviction for marijuana possession and assault with a deadly weapon, newspapers reported.