Wife of Cliburn Winner to Use Insanity Defense in Trial Over Slayings of 2 Young Daughters

Lawyers for Sofya Tsygankov, the estranged wife of a Cliburn-winning pianist, will present an insanity defense at her trial over the slayings of her two young daughters last year.Police say the 33-year-old smothered Nika and Michaela Kholodenko, ages 5 and 1, then tried to kill herself at their Benbrook home on March 17, 2016.Defense attorneys filed notice Friday that they plan to argue that she was insane at the time, the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reports.Vadym Kholodenko, who won the Van Cliburn International Piano Competition in 2013, found his daughters' bodies in their beds when he went to the home to pick them up for a scheduled visit.Tsygankova, who was rocking back and forth and murmuring to herself, had slashed wrists and a stab wound to her chest, according to court records.According to the Tarrant County medical examiner, the girls probably died from asphyxia. An arrest-warrant affidavit says Tsygankova smothered the children before attempting to kill herself.Tsygankova had visited a mental-health facility in Fort Worth the day before the girls were found dead, the affidavit says, and an empty bottle of an anti-psychotic drug was found at her home.She reportedly told police that she didn't want to live anymore but that she couldn't remember harming the girls.Tsygankova was charged with two counts of capital murder. Prosecutors waived the death penalty in the case in July. In November, Tsygankova was found incompetent to stand trial. She spent several months at the North Texas State Hospital for treatment before a judge issued a warrant last month for her return to the Tarrant County jail.Tsygankova and Kholodenko were married in 2010 and separated in 2015.  Continue reading...

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