MINNEAPOLIS (KMSP) - Yevgeniy "Eugene" Savenok pleaded guilty Thursday morning to the brutal murder of his pregnant wife, Lyuba, and unborn son at the couple’s Eden Prairie, Minnesota home last May. Savenok pleaded guilty to 2 counts of second-degree murder and will serve approximately 65 years in prison. In exchange, prosecutors gave up the first-degree murder charge that would carry a life sentence.
Several members of the Eden Prairie Police Department were in court for the plea. For many the case was one of the most brutal they have ever investigated.
Statement from Lyuba's brother, Aleksandr Katane
"I've been to every one of Eugene's hearings and today was especially difficult. It was difficult to hear him say that he intended to kill my sister. It was difficult to hear that he understands that he killed his son Ellis as well. I was holding my own son who is only 1 month older than Ellis would be now. We miss Lyuba very much and my wife and I wish that Ellis survived as we would have loved to adopt him as well.
Furthermore I am personally disappointed in the State of Minnesota regarding the laws surrounding murder. It is my belief that he and any person guilty of murder deserve nothing short of death but our policymakers seem to think so otherwise.
Lastly I hold the prosecutors (Judith and Tara) in the highest regard as they have done a phenomenal job thus far. Hennepin County in general has been amazing in their help and support through all aspects of this tough time for us."
Statement from Eden Prairie Police Chief James DeMann
"On Saturday, May 14, 2016, Eden Prairie Police Officers and Firefighters, along with Hennepin County Medical Center Paramedics, arrived at one of the most horrific scenes a first responder will ever witness. In the months following, our investigators worked tirelessly to bring justice in this tragic case of domestic violence. Nothing in their training could prepare them for the impact this case would have on their lives and their careers – it still affects many of them today.
"As the trial portion of this case comes to a close, we think first of Lyuba and her unborn son Ellis, and their family and friends. We are relieved they have been spared the further agony a long and difficult trial might have caused. We hope today’s guilty plea and the sentence that will follow will help bring closure to them, and to all those in our community who have been affected by this tragedy.
"Our work continues. Last year, 21 lives were lost in cases of domestic violence in Minnesota. As a Police Department, we are committed to our ongoing domestic violence prevention efforts and working together with our community partners to prevent tragedies like this from occurring."
Court documents detail a horrific attack the morning of Saturday, May 14, with Eugene storming into the Eden Prairie, Minn. house he shared with his wife, Lyuba, and their two young children. Savenok allegedly grabbed a kitchen knife and stabbed Lyuba 7 or 8 times before fleeing with the kids.
Lyuba Savenok was declared dead at the scene, and the couple’s unborn son, Ellis, passed away 10 minutes after an emergency C-section attempted to save his life. The age of baby Ellis listed by the Hennepin County Medical Examiner was “minutes.” The indictment filed Thursday in Hennepin County names him as "Baby Boy Savenok."
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 the very next week.
'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.