The man suspected of stabbing his ex-wife to death in her Bellevue home on June 17 and then fleeing to California pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder during his arraignment this morning.
Aleksandr Polak is accused of stabbing Nataliya Vabishchevich, 35, repeatedly with a knife in the head, neck, hands, arms and chest — 72 times in all — in her Bellevue apartment while their teenage son was at school.
During this morning’s arraignment, King County Superior Court Judge Theresa Doyle granted two motions made by the state, adding a domestic violence allegation to the charges and barring Polak from any contact with his mother, sister, teenage nephew and two of Polak’s friends.
The relatives and friends are “direct witnesses to the planning and preparation of this crime,” said King County Senior Deputy Prosecutor Jessica Berliner, who noted there is evidence Polak enlisted his nephew’s help in carrying out the slaying.
Polak, who has been held without bail since his return to King County, appeared in court with his defense attorney and a Russian interpreter.
A second Russian interpreter sat in the gallery, flanked by members of the victim’s family.
Vabishchevich was found by a co-worker who went to check on her when she didn’t show up to work. The co-worker arrived at Vabishchevich’s apartment around noon, and when she opened the door, she found her body in a bloody black bathrobe, police said.
Vabishchevich’s 14-year-old son said his mother had been alive when he left for school around 7:15 that morning.
Polak, 46, was arrested June 20 while getting off a bus in Los Angeles. Authorities say he was planning to flee to Mexico. He was extradited back to King County last week and is being held without bail.
After their marriage ended in divorce about seven years ago, Polak threatened to kill Vabishchevich, according to charging documents. One of Vabishchevich’s friends said she remembered a particular occasion when she had been baby-sitting the couple’s son, who lived with Vabishchevich.
The friend said Polak came to the apartment looking to reconcile with his ex-wife. If Vabishchevich wouldn’t take him back, he said he would kill her, the friend said, according to the documents.
“I kill people,” the friend said he threatened. “I hurt people, and don’t mess with me.”