WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. — A prenuptial agreement may have motivated a Florida woman to arrange the killing of her millionaire hotel-heir husband, a federal prosecutor said Monday during opening statements at her trial.
The agreement meant Narcy Novack, of Fort Lauderdale, would get $65,000 if her husband divorced her but nearly all of his multimillion-dollar estate if he died, said prosecutor Perry Perrone.
Novack, 54, and her brother, Cristobal Veliz, 57, of Philadelphia, are accused in the 2009 killings of her husband, Ben, and his 86-year-old mother.
Ben Novack's father built the storied Fontainebleau hotel in Miami Beach.
Perrone said witnesses will include an exotic dancer who was having an affair with Ben Novack, as well as the actual killers and the getaway drivers.
Prosecutors will argue to the jury that Narcy Novack engineered a plot meant to guarantee she would inherit her husband's $10 million estate. She is accused of letting the killers into the room and ordering them to cut out her husband's eyes, which were sliced with knives.
In his opening statements, Novack's lawyer will say she had nothing to do with it, as she told police during recorded interviews. "I am innocent, and I am angry," she said in court last week.
The jurors are likely to hear about a 2002 Fort Lauderdale police report about the Novacks that hints at a sometimes bizarre married life.
The incident that led to the police report — Ben Novack complaining that his wife tied him to a chair for a day, hit him and made off with $440,000 in cash — has been ruled inadmissible.
But Narcy Novack's comments to police can be revealed to the jury, and they include details about what she called her husband's "obsession" with Batman, his collection of kinky porn and an incident in which she woke up from nose surgery to find she'd been given breast implants.
Narcy Novack, a native of Ecuador, and Veliz are charged with several crimes including murder in aid of racketeering, which carries a mandatory sentence of life in prison.
Novack told Judge Kenneth Karas last week, against her lawyer's wishes, that she needed two more months to prepare her defense. The judge refused, pointing out that she has often complained about the long wait for trial.
Ben Novack's travel company had arranged an Amway convention at a Hilton hotel in Rye Brook, N.Y., and he was overseeing it when he was killed on July 12, 2009.
He was found beaten to death in his hotel room. His wife told police she knew nothing about it until she came back from breakfast and stumbled over the body.
"I walked in ... and I trip on something ... and I realize that he was on the floor," she told police.
Two men already convicted in the case are expected to testify that they were recruited to do the killing.
Ben Novack's mother, Bernice Novack, had been found dead three months earlier in her Fort Lauderdale home. Her death was first ruled an accident but reclassified a homicide after her son's killing.
If Novack is convicted, her husband's estate would go principally to the two sons of her daughter May Abad, who was Ben Novack's stepdaughter. Abad has sued in Florida to block her mother's access to the estate and is expected to testify for the prosecution.
The defense may attack Abad's credibility because of an incident in which a detective investigating the case gave Abad $5,000 to relocate when Abad expressed fears for her safety.