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Wife-killer targeted his own parents to get fortune: prosecutors

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A greedy philanderer with a backgammon obsession strangled his banker wife — then plotted the murder of both his parents to get his hands on her fortune, Manhattan prosecutors said Tuesday.

Accused killer Rod Covlin, 45, sat stone-faced as Assistant DA Matthew Bogdanos delivered his opening statement at the former stockbroker’s sensational murder trial.

Covlin, hoping to commandeer the $5.2 million fortune of estranged spouse Shele Danishefsky, put his 47-year-old wife in a chokehold and snapped her neck in 2009, before staging the scene to look like an accidental bathtub drowning, prosecutors said.

”His primary motive for killing his wife was pure, unadulterated greed,” Bogdanos told jurors of the New Year’s Eve killing.

At one point after the slaying, the suspect’s parents, fearing their own son, secured custody of the couple’s two kids, Anna and Myles.

The move meant Covlin couldn’t control their inheritance — and it sent him into a seething rage, according to prosecutors.

He then hatched a series of maniacal plots to kill his parents to get his hands on the dough, Bogdanos said.

In one sick scenario inspired by episodes of TV’s “Breaking Bad” and “Dexter,” Covlin considered poisoning them with ricin and aconite before finally settling on rat poison, prosecutors said.

His plan was to have his daughter Anna, then 12, unknowingly ”put the poisoned sugar in the grandparent’s tea,” but he abandoned the scheme over concerns that she could be arrested, Bogdanos said.

During Tuesday’s testimony, Danishefksy’s brothers and sister looked on from the court gallery — as did Covlin’s parents, David and Carol.

Much of the disturbing evidence against Covlin comes from ex-girlfriend Debra Oles, who turned against him after an ugly split and is now a pivotal prosecution witness.

But defense lawyer Robert Gottlieb dismissed her Tuesday as an “inveterate liar” who cheated on her husband and abandoned her family to pursue a relationship with Covlin, with whom she had a shared love of backgammon.

Gottlieb said Oles was devastated after Covlin ended their relationship and exacted revenge by “making up stories” and dishing to cops in 2014.

“Her testimony is worthless,” he insisted to jurors.

Covlin wasn’t charged with murdering Danishefsky until November 2015, just two months before he was set to inherit more than $1.6 million from his dead wife’s trust that had been tied up in litigation.

Authorities initially ruled Danishefsky’s death an accident, and her Orthodox Jewish family had objected to an autopsy on religious grounds.

But as suspicions mounted, her body was exhumed, and an autopsy revealed she had been fatally choked and had scratch marks on her face and her own DNA under her nails.

Bogdanos said the injuries were consistent with Danishfesky clawing herself while trying to remove Covlin’s arm from her neck.

“It was no accident, and she put up a fight. She didn’t go easily,” the prosecutor told jurors.

Covlin and Danishefsky had separated earlier that year and were living across the hall from each other in a luxury Upper West Side apartment building at the time.

Two days before the couple’s daughter found Danishefsky floating face-down in the bathtub, the UBS wealth manager told several people she planned to write Covlin out of her will.

On the day of her death, Bogdanos said, the victim underwent a hair-straightening treatment and a salon staffer told her she shouldn’t wet her hair for 72 hours, indicating that Danishefsky wouldn’t have gotten in the tub on her own accord.

Danishefsky never even took baths, the prosecutor said.

Bogdanos also revealed that Covlin asked the kids’ nanny if she would be staying with the family the night of Danishefsky’s death.

“He’d never asked her that before,” Bogdanos said. “In fact, in 10 years, she stayed overnight fewer than five times. … She didn’t say anything to Shele [about Covlin’s question to her], and until this day, she blames herself.”

Gottlieb argued that Danishefsky could have slipped and broken her neck when she hit a hard object like the side of the tub. He asserted that Covlin wasn’t charged for six years because the evidence simply wasn’t there.

“This entire prosecution at the end of the day is built on irrelevant facts and conduct that has nothing to do with proving how Miss Covlin died,” Gottlieb said.

He argued that Danishefsky’s family put enormous pressure on the Manhattan DA’s Office to arrest Covlin before he was eligible to collect her money, despite a dearth of evidence.

Prosecutors Tuesday finally got to tell jurors how a philandering hubby with an obsession with backgammon allegedly strangled his estranged banker wife in 2009 then staged the crime scene to look like an accidental bathtub drowning.

But assistant district attorney Matthew Bogdanos said defendant Rod Covlin, 45, did a poor job covering up his gruesome handiwork on New Year’s Eve 2009 — leaving behind an abundance of incriminating clues.

Covlin and Shele Danishefsky had separated earlier that year and were living across the hall from each other in a luxury Upper West Side apartment building.

Two days before the couple’s daughter found Danishefsky floating face-down in the bathtub, the UBS wealth manager told several people she planned to write Covlin out of her $5.2 million fortune.

”His primary motive for killing his wife was pure unadulterated greed,” Bogdanos told rapt jurors, as Covlin sat stone-faced at the defense table. Danishefsky’s two brothers and sister and Covlin’s parents watched the proceedings from the gallery.

Authorities initially ruled Danishefsky’s death an accident, but as suspicions mounted, her body was exhumed and an autopsy revealed she had been fatally choked.

On the day of her alleged murder, Bogdanos said she underwent a hair-straightening treatment and that her hairdresser, who will testify, told her she couldn’t get her hair wet for 72 hours.

Bogdanos also revealed that Covlin asked the nanny who watched their two kids if she would be staying with the family the night of Danishefsky’s death.

“He’d never asked her that before,” said Bogdanos. “In fact, in 10 years she stayed overnight fewer than five times…She didn’t say anything to Shele, and until this day she blames herself.”

The prosecutor also noted that Danishefsky never took baths.

When cops arrived on the scene, they observed that “the defendant’s clothing was bone dry” and spotless, although he had just pulled his wife’s dead body out of the blood-colored bathwater.

Defense lawyer Robert Gottlieb is expected to deliver his opening in the afternoon.

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