FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, November 17, 2016
Killer of Florida Businessman Set to Marry
Defendant’s Former Lover Sentenced to 25 Years to Life
Sent Phony Text Messages from the Victim’s Cell Phone and Dumped Body in
Desolate Wooded Area in an Effort to Cover up his Crime
Acting Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez today announced that a Brighton Beach man has been sentenced to 25 years to life in prison for the murder of the new boyfriend of his ex-common law wife in 2012. The defendant stabbed, suffocated and strangled the victim, then went to great lengths in a failed attempt to cover his tracks, including sending deceptive text messages from the victim’s phone.
Acting District Attorney Gonzalez said, “This calculated killer relinquished his right to be part of our society when he senselessly killed a man, dumped his body and tried to deceive his worried loved ones. He thought he could get away with this crime, but has now been sentenced to many years in prison.”
The Acting District Attorney identified the defendant as Mikhail Chernyaev, 49, of Brighton Beach, Brooklyn. He was sentenced today by Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Neil Firetog to 25 years to life in prison following his conviction on September 29, 2016 on charges of second-degree murder following a jury trial.
The Acting District Attorney said that, according to trial testimony, the victim, Charles Butler, 56, was a successful businessman from Florida who, in 2012, traveled frequently to his native New York City to spend time with his daughter, who lived on the Upper East Side at the time. He met Anna Lioznov on one of those trips. They started dating and eventually made plans to get married. Lioznov previously had a romantic relationship with the defendant and the two were raising a son together.
On September 18, 2012, Butler made his first visit to his girlfriend’s apartment at 2919 Brighton 8th Street. Surveillance cameras captured Lioznov leaving her home at about 7:40 a.m., the next morning, and the defendant’s Chevrolet Astro van pulling into her building’s garage four minutes later. The vehicle was seen leaving the garage an hour and a half after that and cell tower data tracked both Chernyaev’s and Butler’s phones to Port Jervis, NY before the signals returned to Brooklyn.
Also on September 19, 2012, the victim’s daughters received suspicious text messages in broken English from their father’s phone and Lioznov received a text message, purportedly from Butler, that said in sum and substance, “Forget about me. I’m going back to Florida.”
The evidence further showed that on October 15, 2012, a fisherman who got lost in Hawk’s Nest, a remote area outside Port Jervis, NY, discovered decomposed human remains. Using a sketch constructed from the skeleton, a single useable fingertip print and DNA analysis, the body was positively identified as Butler in May 2013. The defendant, who was back together with Lioznov by then, was taken for questioning on May 22, 2013 and, after first giving a false alibi, said the death was caused by an accidental fall and later conceded to killing the victim, but claimed it was in self-defense.
The case was prosecuted by Assistant District Attorney Melissa Carvajal of the District Attorney’s Homicide Bureau, under the supervision of Assistant District Attorney Kenneth Taub, Chief.