Birthday celebration ends in violent death

Ex-husband charged with killing woman in restaurant parking lot

April 27, 1999|By Jennifer Sullivan | Jennifer Sullivan,CONTRIBUTING WRITER

For a change, Laresa Binyatov was at ease, friends said. She wasn't worried about her three children or having enough money to put food on the table or clothes on their backs. One friend said she had never looked more beautiful as she celebrated her 45th birthday Sunday night.

But the laughter and dining with family and friends ended violently when, police say, Binyatov was shot and killed just before 10: 40 p.m. as she stepped into the parking lot of Europe Restaurant at Labyrinth and Reisterstown roads in Northwest Baltimore. At 11: 42 p.m., she was pronounced dead at the scene.

Police spokeswoman Angelique Cook-Hayes said Laresa Binyatov's ex-husband, Ilya Binyatov, 47, a Baltimore taxi driver who lives in the 3700 block of Seven Mile Lane, was charged with first-degree murder and handgun violations and was being held at the Baltimore City Detention Center. Investigators recovered a .380-caliber handgun at the scene.

A friend of the victim, who requested anonymity, said she was standing less than a foot from the victim when she was shot.

"He came to her with some money in his hand and said, `I wanted to say happy birthday to you, too,' " said the woman. She said Binyatov then put a gun to her chest, and said, " `Maybe it's not enough.' " Then Mrs. Binyatov was shot in the chest.

The woman said she ran back into the restaurant to call 911. "I was thinking there is nothing you could do [other] than call emergency." When she returned to the parking lot, police were there.

The woman said an elderly woman remained at Mrs. Binyatov's side after the first shot. The elder woman, she said, begged Ilya Binyatov to stop, "but he told her to go away."

Europe Restaurant owner Eric Usupoff said he went out and pulled Binyatov's aim from his former wife, deflecting a shot to the pavement. Usupoff said he then wrestled the gun away from Ilya Binyatov.

Usupoff, who described himself as a distant relative of Ilya Binyatov, said the shooting was out of character. "He was a very quiet guy, he would never hurt a fly," said Usupoff. "I don't remember how I took the gun away from his hands."

The woman who saw the shooting and called police said she had met Laresa Binyatov five years ago during a basic English class at a Jewish community center.

She said her friend had never seemed as happy as she was at the party.

"To go to Russian restaurant is a big event," she said. "She never spent for herself and tried to save money for the kids."

Sixteen people, including Laresa's 72-year-old mother visiting from Baky, Russia, and the victim's three children, ate at the restaurant.

The Binyatovs, both from Baky, about two hours by plane outside of Moscow, had been divorced for about a year, the victim's friend said.

Laresa Binyatov, a florist, retained custody of the couple's 14- and 13-year-old daughters and 5-year-old son. Her mother was visiting their Baltimore County home to help her with the children.

With her mother gone and her father jailed, Viktoriya Binyatov, a seventh-grader in Pikesville, and her two siblings were waiting to see if family members will claim them. The 14-year-old said police told her she can't speak to her father for a couple of weeks. She is staying with her grandmother, at her mother's apartment.

"These kids are without any support, their mother doesn't have any life insurance or savings," Laresa Binyatov's friend said, adding that their grandmother's visa will expire at month's end. The woman said she and others can't afford to support the children for long.

"We don't even know how to do a funeral -- we want to spend all money on the children," the woman said.

Pub Date: 4/27/99

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