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Sedunova v. City of New York

United States District Court, E.D. New York

February 10, 2015

NATASHA SEDUNOVA, Plaintiff,
v.
THE CITY OF NEW YORK, et al., Defendants.

LEVENTHAL & KLEIN LLP, Brett H. Klein, Brooklyn, NY, Attorneys for Plaintiff.

NEW YORK CITY LAW DEPARTMENT, Morgan David Kunz, Tobias Eli Zimmerman, New York, NY, Attorneys for Defendant.

MEMORANDUM AND ORDER

STERLING JOHNSON, Jr., District Judge.

This matter is before the Court on the City's motion to dismiss. In addition to facts alleged in the Amended Complaint, the Court will consider (1) Plaintiff's written confession; (2) Plaintiff's videotaped confession; (3) New York v. Sedunova, 22 Misc.3d 1133(A); 881 N.Y.S. 366 (N.Y. Sup. 2009); and (4) New York v. Sedunova, 83 A.D. 965, 922 N.Y.S.2d 134 (N.Y.App.Div. 2011). The following summary takes all of these into account.

In 1995, plaintiff Natasha Sedunova ("Plaintiff" or "Sedunova") married Alexander Klimchuk ("Klimchuk") in Brooklyn, where they lived together. On the morning of September 5, 2004, Klimchuk was found dead in their home. Sedunova called 911 and reported that she woke up to find him laying on the floor motionless. He had been shot in the abdomen and stabbed in the leg.

Sedunova told the responding officers that she did not know who killed her husband. Two officers, defendants John Doe 1 and John Doe 2 (the "John Does"), drove Plaintiff to her daughter's home, but told her that her daughter was not there. They then took Sedunova to Dunkin' Donuts after she accepted their offer of coffee. Plaintiff claims that during the ride, the John Does convinced her to admit to killing Klimchuk in self-defense. At 11:30am, she was transported to the 69th Precinct stationhouse where she claims the John Does dictated a false confession to her. The John Does then allegedly told Sedunova that her daughter was at the precinct and that she would finally get to see her if she also agreed to a videotaped confession. She did.

The Confessions

Sedunova's written confession depicts a history of violence between her and Klimchuk, who she claims abused drugs and alcohol, and gambled, to boot. Sedunova wrote that on the night of September 4, 2004, she arrived home around 10:30pm. Klimchuk accused her of being unfaithful to him. Sedunova wrote that Klimchuk pulled knife on her, placing it at the back of her head. They then fought, punching each other in the face. Sedunova claimed that her face was covered with blood and that she went to the bathroom to clean up. Apparently, that ended this phase of the altercation, as Sedunova claims she then took a bath and went to bed undisturbed. She claims she then woke up in the middle of the night and found Klimchuk in the hallway holding a gun. Kimchuck allegedly threatened to kill her and she shot him. (There is no explanation in the written confession of how Sedunova got a hold of the weapon.) She bagged the weapon and claims to have thrown it out of the window before returning to bed. She did not call police until after she woke up at 8:15am. The written statement provides no explanation for Klimchuck's stab wound.

The Videotaped Confession

In the videotaped confession, Sedunova gave further details. As in the written confession, Sedunova claimed that she had been swimming at Coney Island that day and when she got home, Klimchuk accused her of being unfaithful, approaching her from behind with the knife. She turned around and punched him, and he punched her back. As in the written confession, Sedunova claimed that the fight ended there, and she bathed and went to bed. However, she provides more details as to what happened when she allegedly woke up in the middle of the night to find Klimchuk in the hallway. In this version, she shows a bruised finger and indicates that the finger was hurt during the scuffle in the hallway with Klimchuk, who was holding both a knife and a gun. At one point in the video, Sedunova claimed that she did not know who fired the shot because we "we both pull [ sic ] on the trigger." And although Klimchuk had been stabbed in the leg, Sedunova claimed she did not stab him and did not touch the knife. She also claimed that although the fight lasted 15 minutes, she was barely injured. She pointed out for the camera a bruised finger and several superficial scratches that she did not think required medical attention.

The Indictment

Sedunova was arrested and charged with Murder in the Second Degree and Criminal Possession of a Weapon in the Fourth Degree. She was unable to post the set bail of $650, 000, and remained in custody pending trial.

Suppression Motion, Trial and Appeal

Sedunova filed a motion to suppress her statements as violative of Miranda. The Honorable Matthew D'Emic of the Supreme Court of Kings County granted her suppression motion, in part, and excluded the written confession. However, the videotape was admitted to trial, and Sedunova was convicted of manslaughter. (She was found not guilty of the top count of murder in the second degree.) She was sentenced principally to eight years imprisonment. On April 19, 2011, the Appellate Division, Second Department reversed Sedunova's conviction, finding an insufficient break in the interrogation between the un-Mirandized initial confession and the videotaped confession. ...


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