SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

Local News

November 7, 2012

Murder or manslaughter?

Jury now has Ronchi's fate in hands

SALEM — Peter Ronchi knew that he’d killed Yulyia Galperina as he fled her apartment and then the state in the hours after her death, his lawyer acknowledged to jurors yesterday during his closing argument.

But he hadn’t gone there with the intention of doing it, defense lawyer John Swomley said.

Or had he? That’s what was suggested by prosecutor Jean Curran, playing the surveillance video showing Ronchi arriving at Galperina’s Salem Heights apartment on the evening of May 16, 2009, in one set of clothes and leaving in another.

Besides that, there was the other evidence: the hunting knife Ronchi brought with him; the newly written will that left baby David out of the Ronchi family trust and offered him just a quarter of Ronchi’s liquid assets “if and when” he was born; the postdated checks written out on May 14, paying $31,000 in tuition to his children’s school for the following year and another, for $10,000, to his ex-wife, who did not have full-time physical custody of the two.

And even if they don’t believe he went to the apartment that night with a plan to kill her, the prosecutor suggested, he had time to stop and think about what he was doing, she argued.

Not so, Swomley said.

“Peter Ronchi killed Yulyia Galperina,” Swomley told the Salem Superior Court jury, who must now decide whether Ronchi, 48, of Marblehead, is guilty of first-degree murder, second-degree murder or manslaughter in the deaths of Galperina, 42, and their unborn child.

Jurors will return to the courthouse today to deliberate.

“We concede he tried to kill her,” Swomley told jurors. But, he suggested, “In that moment, he acted under a heat of passion, which allows you to conclude that he did not form the two elements necessary for first-degree murder. He did not form a deliberate premeditated plan, and/or he did not have in his mind at the moment he killed Ms. Galperina an appreciation of the wrongfulness of his actions or that they were cruel or atrocious.”

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