EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. (KMSP) - Eugene Savenok made his initial court appearance Wednesday afternoon on murder charges in the stabbing death of his wife, Lyuba Savenok, and the death of the couple’s unborn son. The court appearance lasted 17 minutes. Savenok, 30, was ordered to have no contact with his children or Lyuba’s family. The state has also initiated proceedings to strip Savenok of his parental rights.
Tuesday afternoon, Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman charged Yevgeniy Savenok (Eugene) with two counts of first-degree premeditated murder. The prosecutor went on the offensive in speaking about domestic violence.
“My father was a former Marine Corps colonel,” Freeman said. “He told me when I was 10 years old, you don’t hit a woman. I never forgot that, and that’s good practice for everybody.”
Wednesday afternoon, defense attorney Marsh Halberg admitted there's no way to spin the allegations against his client, but said it's too early to talk about first-degree murder and the life sentence that would come with a conviction.
“There’s no way to put any kind of spin on this. This is a chilling complaint. We read that. We understand the facts here are heart-wrenching for everyone involved," Halberg said. "There’s no doubt the deaths occurred here. The question, was this premeditated? To what level is this first-degree, second-degree or some other level?"
Court documents detail a horrific attack Saturday morning, with Eugene storming into the Eden Prairie, Minn. house he shared with his pregnant wife Lyuba and their two young children. Savenok allegedly grabbed a kitchen knife and stabbed Lyuba seven or eight times before fleeing with the kids.
Lyuba Savenok was declared dead at the scene, and the couple’s unborn son passed way 10 minutes after an emergency C-section attempted to save his life. The Hennepin County Medical Examiner ruled both deaths a homicide.
'I stabbed my wife'
At about 1 p.m. Saturday, Savenok walked into United Hospital in St. Paul with the couple's children and told a security guard that he just killed his wife. St. Paul police were called and Savenok was arrested. In an interview with police, Savenok told investigators, “I stabbed my wife.” Savenok said that on his return trip from Chicago the night before, he thought about using a knife to kill his wife, and admitted to knowing that Lyuba was pregnant.
According to court records, Eugene Savenok had a history of beating his wife. In fact, Lyuba had an active protective order against her husband when she was killed -- an order she had accused him of violating in the past. A trial on those allegations was scheduled for next week.
At some point, Lyuba allowed Eugene to move back in. Her extended family and loved ones are now shattered by the viciousness of the attack.
“When things got rocky, she would come back to Chaska to be near her parents, where she would feel safe,” brother Aleksandr Katane said. “They would take care of her. We were lucky to shelter her during those times.”
Order for protection details
Lyuba Savenok had an order for protection order against Eugene Savenok in Wheaton, Illinois, where the couple once lived. The order for protection, filed in DuPage County, lists the following incidents:
Aug. 1, 2014: "Hit me during sex. I yelled, pushed him off and called the police. He broke a window out of rage."
Aug. 10, 2014: "Wrestled and hit me repeatedly (45 min), left bruises and bloody nose."
Aug. 25, 2014: "Pulled me up by the hair."
Aug. 27, 2014: "With the increase of incidents and the severity of them, I’ve gotten his parents and my parents involved as well as our church. I overheard him talking to his dad on the phone yesterday, telling him that the only way this will end is me in the hospital or him in jail. He has taken freedoms away from me such as my phone and my forms of identification, as well as use of our cars to keep me feeling alone and helpless and scared. He doesn’t intend on stopping and I don’t know when to expect his next outlash and its very emotionally difficult to live under the pressure."
Celebrating Lyuba's life
This family statement was released after charges were filed against Eugene Savenok:
"It's hard for us to once again hear the details of Lyuba's senseless murder. Her family, friends and loved ones feel deep sadness, loss and anger. It has been especially difficult to learn that her son survived for a small time after the doctors tried to save him. Lyuba was going to name him Ellis.
"We are assured knowing that we live in a country where justice will be served and we are grateful that the children are both safe and cared for by Lyuba's parents. As the report states my sister Alisa (14) escaped the house as Lyuba was murdered so we are relieved to know that she is also safe. Currently the entire family is focused on celebrating Lyuba's life at her funeral and also caring for her two remaining children.
"Lyuba was in a very difficult marriage and no stone will be left unturned as we look for answers. However at this time let's focus on celebrating her life, passions and coming together to set her children up for success."
How you can help
A GoFundMe campaign has raised $70,000 to help with funeral expenses and funds for the two young children left behind. The two children are staying with family.