A martial arts expert performed a lethal chokehold on a skeleton in the Rod Covlin slay trial in Manhattan court Monday — and accidentally broke the prop’s jaw during a demonstration-turned-comedy skit.
Prosecution witness Dan Anderson had first stepped off the stand to wrap his left arm around the skeleton’s throat from behind — the way prosecutors say Covlin snapped his estranged banker wife’s neck in 2009.
“The hardest part is to clear the chin,” Anderson told jurors, explaining that the natural response for subjects of the deadly move is to tuck their chins toward their chests, making it difficult for the attacker to get an arm against the subject’s neck.
“I just pull the top of your head back a little bit more, or I can pull the top of your chin …,“ he said, referring to the skeleton — and the prop’s jaw slipped off.
“I think I broke it. Sorry!” said the red-faced witness, eliciting chuckles from the jury.
“Don’t do it again,” ADA Mathew Bogdanos playfully scolded.
After the demonstration wrapped, a court officer picked up the skeleton, which flopped sideways, and accidentally bopped the court reporter on the back of the head. The courtroom erupted in laughter.
Anderson returned to the stand, where he told jurors that a properly performed chokehold could cause unconsciousness in as little as 5 seconds and brain damage or death in just 10 seconds.
Bogdanos played a November 2018 surveillance video of Covlin demonstrating a chokehold for another inmate inside the law library at the Brooklyn Detention Complex.
Anderson described the chokehold shown in the footage, which has no audio, as “the rear-naked choke with the Gable grip,” named after America Olympic gold-medalist wrestler Dan Gable.
Defense lawyer Robert Gottlieb has argued that there’s no evidence the defendant ever learned the lethal move — although the recently surfaced clip may undermine that assertion.
The backgammon-obsessed, hooker-loving hubby has a black belt in Taekwondo, according to prosecutors, and allegedly murdered wife and mother Shele Danishefsky to get his hands on her $5.2 million fortune.