Prosecutors: Man killed wife in Manhattan apartment before she cut him out of will

NEW YORK -- Opening statements began Tuesday in the trial of a man accused of murdering his estranged wife in her Upper West Side apartment.

Prosecutors say Roderick Covlin killed his wife back in 2009 and then staged the scene to look like a bathtub drowning.

It happened one day before Shele Covlin was reportedly going to cut him out of her will.

Her death was ruled accidental until her body was exhumed a year later.

Roderick Covlin was arrested and charged with murder, two months before he was set to inherit her multi-million dollar estate.

He has pleaded not guilty.

Shele Colvin's body was found face down in the bathtub by their 9-year-old daughter.
An autopsy was not immediately done for religious reasons, and the body was badly decomposed by the time they got a rabbi's blessing to exhume the body three months later.

The death was initially believed to be an accidental slip and fall, and her body was buried the day after her death.

Friends later revealed that she told them her estranged husband threatened to kill her, and that she feared for her life. Embroiled in a bitter custody battle, she obtained an order of protection against him.

Shele Covlin, 47, was a money manager at UBS, part of a finance family in which she worked alongside her brother and father. Her 42-year-old husband, known as Rod, had been a trader and was a noted figure in the backgammon world, having helped found the U.S. Backgammon Federation.

The prosecutor's opening arguments lasted two hours, during which he described years of alleged domestic abuse, mostly emotional and verbal. He also claimed Roderick Covlin was a prolific womanizer, aided in large part by the internet.
After his wife's murder, the prosecutor alleged Roderick Covlin plotted to kill his own parents because they had custody of the kids and because he also wanted access to their inheritance.

As for the defense, the attorney immediately called for a mistrial citing what he called the prosecutor's flagrant and outrageous disregard for the judges's previous rulings and instructions about what statement are and are not admissible. The judge denied the request.

(The Associated Press contributed to this report.)
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