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Wednesday, July 8, 1998 Published at 00:37 GMT 01:37 UK

World: Americas

Cosby killer gets life

Mikhail Markhasev arrives in court

A teenage Ukrainian immigrant has been convicted by a court in California of murdering entertainer Bill Cosby's son Ennis.

The BBC's Los Angeles correspondent Clive Myrie: "Life without parole"
A jury deliberated for less than six hours before returning the guilty verdict.

Mikhail Markhasev was also found guilty of attempted robbery while high on drugs.

A BBC correspondent says that under Caliofornia law Markhasev will be sentenced to life without parole because the murder was committed in the execution of a robbery.

Ennis Cosby, a 27-year-old Columbia University student, was killed on January 16, 1997 as he changed a car tyre in the Bel Air district of Los Angeles.

A spokesman for the Cosby family, David Brokaw, said: "The Cosby family is satisfied with the judicial process that has led to this conviction. They have no comment on the sentencing."

Bill Cosby was not in the Santa Monica court to hear the verdicts returned. He only attended the court once - to hear closing arguments in the case.

Mr Cosby Snr sat in the front row of the public gallery with his wife and two daughters and stared intensely at the Ukrainian immigrant as he was brought into the room in handcuffs.

During the closing speeches Deputy District Attorney Anne Ingalls told the jury that she had proved "beyond a reasonable doubt" that the defendant murdered Ennis Cosby, the star's only son.

[ image: Bill Cosby is one of America's highest paid  entertainers]
Bill Cosby is one of America's highest paid entertainers
She reminded the six men and six women that Markhasev had been overheard confessing the murder to a friend, Michael Chang.

Mr Chang refused to testify at the trial and was held in contempt of court.

Ms Ingalls also reminded the jury of letters allegedly written by the Ukrainian from jail in which he spoke of "a robbery gone wrong".

The letters, she contended, contained information that only the killer would know, such as the names of the other key people in the case.

The defence said there was no direct proof linking Markhasev to the murder or the scene of the crime.

They argued the real killer was probably Markhasev's friend, Eli Zakaria, who was in a car with him and another friend around the time of the murder. Neither were called as witnesses by the prosecution.

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