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Murder charge filed in Ennis Cosby slaying

March 14, 1997

LOS ANGELES (AP) _ Prosecutors filed a murder charge Friday against a young immigrant in the shooting of Bill Cosby’s son and added a special allegation that could lead to the death penalty if he is convicted.

Mikail Markhasev was charged Friday with murder, attempted robbery and use of a firearm during commission of a crime in the Jan. 16 killing of Ennis Cosby, who was shot to death while changing a tire near a freeway.

The allegation that Cosby, a 27-year-old doctoral candidate, was killed during an attempted robbery is a so-called ``special circumstance″ that, if upheld at trial, could allow prosecutors to seek the death penalty.

The prosecutors’ filing came as details of the Soviet emigre’s past began to emerge. He was described as a better-than-average student and hard worker at his job in a plant store, but he also had a juvenile criminal record that landed him in a probation camp for six months in 1995.

``He just seemed like a nice kid who lived down the block,″ said Jim Herzoff, owner of Mainly Seconds Pottery Plants & Things, where Markhasev was hired last month as a cashier. ``It’s like, go figure.″

Arrested Wednesday at his North Hollywood apartment, Markhasev, was in the custody of sheriff’s deputies at the criminal court building as he awaited arraignment.

Markhasev came to the United States as a refugee from the collapsing Soviet Union in 1989 and is not a U.S. citizen, a federal official, speaking on condition of anonymity, told The Associated Press.

He was in and out of schools in Los Angeles, West Hollywood and Orange County and earned a ``B″ average at Reseda High School.

Police Lt. Anthony Alba declined to release Markhasev’s criminal history, but newspapers reported it included convictions for marijuana possession and assault with a deadly weapon.

Los Angeles Unified School District spokesman Shel Erlich confirmed that Reseda High School, which Markhasev attended for less than a year in 1995, sent his records to a probation camp called Los Pinos High School.

Markhasev randomly targeted Cosby for robbery, Police Chief Willie Williams said Thursday, although it appears nothing was taken.

Cosby was shot about 1:30 a.m. while he changed a flat on his $130,000 Mercedes convertible on a road just off the San Diego Freeway between the San Fernando Valley and West Los Angeles.

Markhasev and his mother were quiet tenants who signed a year lease in January for a two-bedroom apartment at Villa Valencia, said building manager Olga Faynshteyn.

``His mom is hard-working,″ said Faynshteyn, who added that Markhasev ``seemed to be normal.″

Asked the mother’s reaction to the case, Faynshteyn said, ``I guess she’s shocked like everybody else. She wasn’t expecting it.″

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