They separated in April 2009. She rented the apartment directly across the hall from hers for him because she did not want to disrupt the children’s lives — they had a second child, a son, by then. She also gave Mr. Covlin a set of keys to her apartment, a decision prosecutors said cost her her life.
For the rest of the year, the divorce and custody battle became increasingly bitter. Mr. Covlin, who had lost his job at Pragma Securities, a financial consulting firm, told a Family Court judge that he could no longer afford to pay child support. In response, the judge forbid him to spend money to attend backgammon tournaments. “All of which led to his growing, obsessive, all-consuming hatred of her,” Mr. Bogdanos said.
A month after they separated, Mr. Covlin tried to sabotage his wife, according to court records, telling her employer that she used drugs and had stolen money from their joint account. Two months later, he coached their 3-year-old son, Myles, to falsely accuse Ms. Danishefsky Covlin of sexual abuse, prosecutors said.
Patricia Swenson, a woman Mr. Covlin met online, testified that he had told her in August of that year that he wanted to kill his wife or to have her die some other way.
Prosecutors say that Mr. Covlin followed through on his word, but his attempts to obtain his wife’s money after her death stalled after he became mired in a legal battle with her brother, along with a custody dispute over the children.
For Mr. Covlin, custody of the children meant access to the millions of dollars his wife had left for them. In the end, however, his parents, David and Carol Covlin, of Scarsdale, became the children’s guardians.
Mr. Covlin, who moved in with his parents, assaulted his mother in September 2011, slamming her headfirst into a wall, and attacked his father two months later, according to court records. He also took $84,000 from his children’s college fund.