Hand-chopping husband sentenced to 14 years in jail, ordered to pay ex-wife he mutilated
The story of Dmitry and Margarita Grachev shocked the country in December of last year. As their marriage was crumbling, Dmitry became increasingly paranoid and jealous. He finally decided that he would rather cripple his wife than let her go. So he drove her to a forest, chopped off her hands, took her to the hospital, and went to the police to surrender.
On Thursday, a court in the city of Serpukhov near the Russian capital sentenced Grachev to 14 years in a high-security prison. He was also ordered to pay about US$35,000 in damages to Margarita.
The young woman, who is now divorced, attended the hearings. After sentencing, she said she had expected a harsher punishment.
Prosecutors asked for Grachev to be sent behind bars for 17 years. He will now probably appeal.
Dmitry Grachev did not contest the charges of causing grave bodily harm and threatening with murder, but he argued during the trial that he was not guilty of two counts of kidnapping Margarita. He believes his punishment should not exceed 10 years.
Short-tempered, controlling tyrant
Dmitry and Margarita knew each other from school, but got together in their early 20s, marrying in 2012. Margarita was already pregnant with their first child when they were married, and two years later she gave birth to their second son. Her responsibilities as a mother kept her busy, and it seems that as long as she mostly stayed at home, Dmitry remained a caring and loving husband, albeit with certain flaws.
According to Russian media, Dmitry was a very controlling man who would allow his wife very little time for privacy. He had unrestricted access to her emails and text messages, and controlled when and whether she would meet friends. He also had a short temper, but reportedly had enough self-control to not become violent.
In 2016, Margarita's paid maternity leave came to an end and she started working. In about a year or so, Dmitry seemed to grow distant and cold, so much so that Margarita told her mother she suspected he was having an affair. There was no proof, however.
In October, after Dmitry started spending nights elsewhere, Margarita told him she was thinking about filing for divorce, which he seemed to take in stride.
Mad with jealousy
But apparently, Dmitry did not much care for the idea. He became extremely suspicious about Margarita's contacts. A man she worked with became the focus of his jealousy, especially after she started deleting text messages from him. In reality, he had children about the same age as the Grachevs', so Margarita occasionally took her children to spend time with his. On at least one occasion, Dmitry beat his wife during a quarrel about this co-worker, but she didn't report the assault.
In early November, Dmitry confronted Margarita again in an extremely disturbing way. He drove her to a secluded place despite her objections, put a knife to her chest and demanded she tell him the truth.
Margarita told him she had been faithful, and he seemed convinced. The episode frightened the woman's mother enough to file a report with the police, but they apparently failed to find any probable cause to intervene. The officer responsible is currently under investigation for possible criminal negligence.
Later the same month, after Margarita's 25th birthday, Dmitry moved back in – which relatives perceived as an attempt to salvage the marriage. But it seems it was just a ploy to better control her fueled by searing jealousy. On December 1, he took her to take a lie detector test with a private specialist, apparently seeking validation of his paranoia.
'If you are not mine, you'll be a cripple'
The results of the tests were inconclusive, and their accuracy remains questionable even now, since the person who conducted it fled after finding out about his client's crime. But even if Dmitry had been told his wife didn't cheat on him, it may not have mattered. Even before receiving the papers, he started preparing the attack – learning how to stop bleeding after a traumatic loss of limbs, buying medical and other supplies, and studying ways to mitigate his eventual sentence.
On December 11, Dmitry kidnapped his wife for the second time. He drove her to the same spot as the previous time, tied tourniquets on her arms, forced her to place her hands on an improvised chopping block, and started striking at them with an axe. He was apparently raging with emotion, because he continued by hitting Margarita several times on her legs, crying: "If you are not mine, you'll be a cripple," according to her police testimony. He then dragged her to the car and repeated over and over "what a rush" on the way to hospital.
Doctors managed to attach Margarita's left hand, which police found at the crime scene. It was badly damaged and is nowhere near healthy. The right hand, unfortunately, could not be saved. Margarita now uses a prosthetic. As the trial was underway, she divorced him and successfully petitioned to deny Dmitry custody over their children. He reportedly argued against this decision, saying it denied him a mitigating factor he needed for the sentencing.
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