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Icon painter sentenced in the same courtroom as "Barber of Malca": He heard verdict without reaction

"There is no justification for the crime you committed against a helpless woman who did not deserve to be killed in such a way, nor can justification be sought in your difficult life," the judge said in his closing remarks

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Vladan Grahovac, 28, from Raska, was today found guilty and sentenced by the Higher Court in Nis to 30 years in prison for the brutal murder of Jelica Tatarovski, 82. He killed the elderly woman from Nis on August 31, 2019.

Grahovac massacred the old woman, whom he knew because he lived in the same building as she in Zorana Djindjica Boulevard in Nis while he was studying dentistry. He committed the murder using a knife and a hammer, after which he stole her money.

Higher Court Judge Mirko Draskovic explained the verdict in detail, stressing that the sentence for aggravated murder of 30 years is not a manifestation of the court's force and power, but a strong response of justice to the death of an innocent old woman. He addressed Grahovac directly, who heard the verdict without reacting in any way.

"Mr. Grahovac, my panel and I have examined in detail all the facts and evidence and found that you are guilty of the crime of which you were charged. The factual situation was more or less clear, the most contentious question was whether you committed the crime out of greed, that is, whether the 760 euros found on your person came from the crime against Jelica Tatarovski, or the sale of paintings, as you claimed. Based on the evidence, we took the position that it was Jelica's money, based on traces of papillary lines and blood, found not only on the items in the apartment, but also on the wallet that was found next to the corpse. You did not provide any evidence that you actually obtained the money in the way you explained. The fact that another 12,000 euros were found in Jelica's apartment does not change our position that you stole from her... The fact that you did not find that money is another question," said Draskovic.

He also referred to Grahovac's line of defense that said he was not of sound mind during the commission of the crime.

"During the assessment of your sanity, we accepted the finding and opinion of the representative of the expert commission of the Special Prison Hospital in Belgrade, Veselin Pecenica, that you were aware of the actions you were taking. This can be seen also from the evidence from the investigation, all your actions were purposeful, logical and reasonable. After the crime, you went to the Clinical Center, the camera footage shows you walking through this institution, you address the worker who instructs you where to ask for help. You change your clothes, go to the bus station, buy a ticket and take a bus to Belgrade... These are not the actions of a person who is not of sound mind," Draskovic said.

Explaining why the prosecution's proposal to sentence the accused to the maximum prison term of 40 year that was valid at the time the crime was committed was not accepted, the judge said that the mitigating circumstance of Grahovac showing remorse was taken into account.

"There is no justification for the crime you committed against a helpless woman who did not deserve to be killed in such a way, nor can justification be sought in your difficult life," Judge Draskovic said.

"Barber of Malca" was tried in the same courtroom

The granddaughter of the murdered woman was also present in courtroom 90, where the most serious crimes are being tried, where the infamous "Barber of Malca" was recently sentenced to life in prison for kidnapping and raping a child.

"I am not satisfied with the verdict, even the most severe punishment is not enough for such a cruel murder, considering that he is a young man and that most such criminals repeat the crime. I absolutely think that he should have been given the maximum punishment. Until the hearing on February 12, when a forensic expert testified, I did not know how much pain our grandmother Vera suffered, I was comforting myself thinking that she did not suffer much, but after learning that, I think that no punishment would be enough and this is absolutely not," said the victim's granddaughter Maja Markovic.

She thanked the officers of the Criminal Investigations Police from Nis and Belgrade who, as she pointed out, found the killer in time.

"If the murderer had not been found, (if we didn't know) who did it and how, our life is totally disturbed as it is, we wouldn't be able to live with it. This cannot reduce our pain, no verdict, but I think it's insufficient, regardless of the mental state of the perpetrator at that time. He was absolutely of sound mind, I think he has a deviant and manipulative personality, I feel no empathy towards him," said Markovic and added that she expects the prosecution to appeal the first instance verdict because in the closing argument they asked for 40 years in prison.


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