SALEM — Peter Ronchi and Yulyia Galperina had bonded on a Marblehead tennis court over a shared spirituality, his lawyer told jurors yesterday.
“They were both out there,” defense lawyer John Swomley said. “They believed they could feel each other’s energy and see each other’s auras.”
But on the night Ronchi killed Galperina, Swomley contends, Galperina had taken things too far. Ronchi had already acquiesced to her refusal to undergo prenatal testing, even though her pregnancy was considered high-risk because of her age, 42. He’d already accepted that she wanted to take high doses of apricot seed, Swomley said, despite Ronchi’s concerns over their toxicity to the baby she had already named David.
Now, she wanted to bar his family from seeing the baby for the first 90 days, citing the custom in her native Russia.
On the night Galperina died, in May 2009, she began to tick off the things she wanted done. Ronchi, 48, grew angry and got up to leave, Swomley said.
“Look, if I can’t participate in any of the decisions involving our child, maybe I should just leave and send money,” Swomley quoted his client as telling Galperina.
“Don’t bother to send money,” Swomley said Galperina told Ronchi. “The child isn’t yours anyway.”
“Mr. Ronchi snapped,” Swomley told jurors.
Galperina and the baby boy she was due to deliver that week, a baby that was, DNA tests showed, Ronchi’s son, died that night. Galperina died from as many as 10 stab wounds, many of them to her back, and the unborn but viable fetus died of suffocation.
Prosecutors have charged Ronchi, of Marblehead, with two counts of first-degree murder, saying they can prove that he not only planned the killing but that he left her dying with the knowledge that her other children would find her.