On the evening of January 16, 1997, Ennis Cosby (son of Bill Cosby), on break from school, was driving to visit a friend when his car developed a flat tire on I-405 in Los Angeles. He telephoned his friend, who drove out to assist him.
While Cosby changed the tire, his friend remained in her own car. An armed man approached her driver-side window, causing her to move the vehicle twenty to fifty feet. When she returned, she discovered that Cosby had been shot in the head.
After America's Most Wanted and The National Enquirer offered a $100,000 reward for information, the Enquirer received a call telling them that Mikhail Markhasev, an 18-year-old Ukrainian immigrant, had bragged that he'd shot a black man and that the case was on the news.
Born in Lviv, Markhasev had come to the U.S. in 1989 with his mother, attending a program for gifted children in West Hollywood, where a teacher described him as well-liked and well-behaved. But, after moving to Los Alamitos, CA, in 1992, he began hanging out with a gang and exhibiting racism. In 1995 Markhasev and other gang members attacked two African American men with a knife at a gas station and served six months at a juvenile correctional facility. According to a friend, his time in the facility changed him, and he seemed more combative and angrier upon his release.
Prosecutors said that Markhasev, after demanding money from Cosby, shot him in the head because he was moving too slowly. Markhasev's DNA was found on a knit cap wrapped around a gun found five miles from the crime scene, and the gun was matched to the bullet that killed Cosby.
Letters written by Markhasev while in jail were presented at his trial. In one letter, Markhasev wrote: "I shot the nigger .... I went to rob a [drug dealer] and obviously found something else."
In 1998 Markhasev was sentenced to life in prison without parole, plus 10 years, for first-degree murder and attempted robbery. The Cosby family had asked prosecutors not to seek the death penalty.
The item is a Mikhail Markhasev visiting application. Markhasev has signed his name as well as printed it. Additionally, he has written out his department of corrections number and dated the paper.