MINNEAPOLIS (KMSP) - Yevegniy "Eugene" Savenok, who pleaded guilty in the murder of his pregnant wife and their unborn son, was sentenced to 65 years, but not all that time will be spent behind bars. One third of that time will be under supervised release.
According to court documents, on May 14, Savenok went into his home, stabbed his wife, Lyuba, with a kitchen knife seven to eight times, and then left with his two other children. Emergency crews pronounced Lyuba dead at the scene. The couple's unborn son died 10 minutes after an emergency C-section.
It was a very emotional day in court, as Lyuba's loved ones read heart-wrenching victim's statements.
“In the beginning it was really difficult," said Alyssa Katane, Lyuba's sister-in-law. "[Her children] would often ask for their mother. [Her daughter] would often fall down on her knees crying 'momma momma.'”
“I did manage to look at him a good while for him to realize this is who he’s speaking on, the brother of the woman he murdered," said Aleksandr Katane, Lyuba's brother. “This is the last time I will ever see him thankfully. Thank God.”
Savenok read a statement, apologizing for his actions, which he called "the result of turning away from God."
His defense attorney, Marsh Halberg, says Savenok can't explain why he acted so violently and he struggles every day, trying to understand what happened.
“He said he wanted to be able to do that at sentencing, give some closure to her family as to 'what I was going through' or 'what I thought when I did this and there’s just a big blur to all of it,'" said Halberg.
Lyuba's family members were not swayed by Savenok's statement.
“Those are not his words," said Aleksandr Katane. "It’s hard to comment on his words, but all I can say is there is a history of manipulation and I have no reason to believe that has changed.”
Court records showed Savenok had a history of beating his wife, who had an active protective order against her husband when she was killed. She had accused him of violating those terms before and was set to face him in trial the next week.
Savenok will be about 73 years old when he gets out of prison.
Eugene Savenok's full statement:
I have struggled with what thoughts and words to say today. There is simply no way to communicate how I feel and the remorse inside of me. Every day I think about what I have done and the people I have lost – both for myself and our families.
There is little I can do at this point, but I did not want to put anyone through the stress of a trial. I did not want the evidence in this case to be shown in a public courtroom. That would be too hard on everyone involved. My decision to plead guilty is a small attempt to help bring closure to our families.
Lyubov was an extraordinary woman full of life and love for our family. No one deserves to have their life taken from them. There is nothing that I can say to undo what I have done. No words will bring them back. Nonetheless, I want our families to know that I am truly sorry. Lyubov and our son did nothing to deserve my cruelty.
I wish I could help our families heal by explaining my thought process on how this came to be. I am legally accountable, but unfortunately my thinking was so diluted at that time, based upon depression, alcohol and mental issues, that I cannot give insight into my thought process. I now know that my actions were the result of turning away from God.
I lost my way.
My thought process was not rational. I don’t understand it either – I cannot explain why I did this. But I did. And I am sorry.
I understand the anger our families have towards me and that is totally justified. I will spend decades in prison reflecting on how my cruelty has caused pain to so many others.
Neither my family nor Lyubov’s family have done anything wrong to cause these tragic deaths. I sincerely hope that both families can work together to raise our children in a loving and supportive environment.
I pray that my actions do not cause my children to lose faith in God. I hope they follow his word each and every day. I also pray that both families will work together to heal and be positive role models for my children. I deeply love [my children] and I always will. To them I apologize for taking their mother and little brother away. I am so sorry.