Mother Convicted of Murdering Her Two Children

Karina Brill faces two possible life sentences for murder of Mira, 5, and Igor, 7. Court rejects insanity plea.

Gil Ronen ,

Karina Brill (file)
Karina Brill (file)
Flash 90

Karina Brill, 38, was convicted Sunday of two counts of murder, for mortally stabbing her two children – Mira, 5, and Igor, 7 – in 2013.

A three-judge panel at the Jerusalem District Court, headed by Judge Tzvi Segal, said that the charge sheet was “shocking in its content, its words sting, its plot nightmarish. The eyes brim with tears and the heart breaks.”

The court determined that Brill murdered the children because she feared that the welfare authorities would take them from her. It rejected her insanity plea and said that she “was not truly unable to avoid doing the deed.”

Sentencing will be handed down at a late date, the judges said, since the defense asked for a mitigated sentence.

Brill was charged 18 months ago with murdering Igor and Mira on September 16, 2013.

A recent immigrant from the former Soviet Union, Brill worked in the International Library in Moscow before immigrating. The children's father, a jazz musician, did not immigrate to Israel with Brill, nor did her parents.

According to the prosecuting attorney, Brill had been violent toward her son in August, leaving a bruise on his neck. The child's counselor in the summer ulpan (Hebrew academy) noticed the bruise, and the boy told her it was inflicted by his mother.

The counselor asked Karina Brill if this was true and she admitted hurting Igor, and asked for help from the social services. Social services began to get involved in her case but on Rosh Hashana (Jewish New Year), she apparently tried to commit suicide by cutting her neck with a knife.

During Yom Kippur, Brill and her two children were the guests of a female friend of hers in Jerusalem, whose name is Gali. Brill showed the friend the cut on her neck and said, “Look what I did to myself.” Gali informed the social services in the neighborhood where she lives, Baka-Talpiyot, who coordinated a meeting with her. Brill was upset with Gali, and voiced fear that her children would be taken from her.

Karina returned to her apartment and her sister, Nadia, slept over. She told Nadia that she would not let anyone take her children away from her and that she would hurt them herself. The next morning, she decided to murder her children and commit suicide. She took a large kitchen knife, slit her wrists and went to the room where the children slept in a bunk bed, where she stabbed them and then cut her own throat.

It remains to be seen whether the conviction will stand for long. According to a study by Dr. Yoav Mazeh of the Ono Academy, most of the women who have been convicted of murdering their spouses or children in Israel in recent decades have had the conviction amended to manslaughter by the Supreme Court. 

A similar pattern has held true for women accused of infanticide, but recently, this pattern appeared to have been broken when the Supreme Court upheld the murder conviction of Marie Pizem, who – together with her husband Ronnie Ron – murdered her daughter Rose, who was Ron's granddaughter.

Dr. Mazeh attributes the courts' laxity toward female murderers to pressure from women's organizations.