RALEIGH Ukranian immigrant Volodymyr Kocherhin and his wife, Olha Kocherhina, had both been in trouble with the law in recent years for driving under the influence and minor larcenies.
Now Kocherhin, 51, faces the possibility of life in prison or the death penalty, after he was charged over the weekend with the first-degree murder of his wife. Kocherhin had called police from behind a Kimbrell’s Furniture store on New Bern Avenue early Friday morning to report that he’d found his wife “lying in blood” in the grass after she had gone missing the day before.
A sheriff’s deputy pushed the wheelchair-bound Kocherhin into a Wake County District courtroom Monday afternoon for his first court appearance. A week earlier, he had pleaded guilty in Wake District Court to shoplifting and was given credit for the 20 days he had spent in jail.
Kocherhin and his wife were both scheduled to appear in court Nov. 17 in Dare County where police charged him with driving while impaired on July 20. They charged Olha Kocherhina with one misdemeanor count each of aiding and abetting an impaired driver and possession of an open container and consuming alcohol in the passenger area of the vehicle they were traveling in, state records show.
Dare County law officials revoked Kocherhin’s driver’s license for 30 days, pending the outcome of the DWI trial, state records show.
In 2007, police in Chatham County, Ga., charged Kocherhin with driving under the influence, along with a misdemeanor count of endangering the life of a child, state records show.
Olha Kocherhina was convicted in a Wake County courtroom of driving while impaired on April 6. She was sentenced to one year probation, state records show. Investigators reported that Kocherhina’s blood alcohol content was .35, more that four times the state limit of .08. Kocherhina spent nine days in jail after her arrest and lost her driver’s license.
A Wake County judge ordered her to complete child safety and substance abuse programs after she pleaded guilty in 2009 to being intoxicated and disruptive. She was also convicted that year of shoplifting, state records show.
In 2008, the couple was convicted of misdemeanor larceny and sentenced to one year probation and ordered to complete 45 days of community service, state records show.
Investigators say Olha Kocherhina, 44, died of internal injuries, but they have not provided details or the circumstances surrounding her death. An arrest warrant charging Kocherhin with murder does not list a weapon.
Kocherhin called 911 shortly before 1:30 a.m. Friday. He told an emergency dispatcher he did not speak English very well, and the dispatcher relied on an interpreter to communicate with him.
Kocherhin said that he last saw his wife the day before when they had lunch together. He said she had gone to the pool but never returned and that he called a taxi to help him look for her.
Kocherhin did not answer the dispatcher when she asked where his wife lived. He said he did not know why she was in the back of a parking lot.