Former student gets life in police informer's death

Carol Sowers -- The Arizona Republic -- Dec. 16, 2003

A former Arizona State University engineering student was sentenced to life in prison for fatally stabbing a Russian police informer. 

After Konstantine Simberg was stabbed, he was also set on fire as he lay dying alongside a Yavapai County creek two years ago.

After the jury rejected the death penalty, Judge Louis Araneta of Maricopa County Superior Court sentenced 21-year-old Christopher Andrews to life in prison with no possibility of parole for 25 years. Andrews also received a concurrent 10.5-year sentence for participating in the kidnapping of the murder victim. 

Simberg was kidnapped Dec. 14, 2001 and taken the next morning to Fossil Creek in Yavapai County where he died.

Michael Black, Andrews' Phoenix attorney, argued Simberg was killed by others because he had supplied information to Phoenix police about a September, 2001 theft of $1 million of human growth hormones. There is a large black market for the hormones, often used by body builders.

Prosecutors said the HGH heist was unrelated, and that Simberg was killed in a failed car-for-cash plot. Dennis Tsoukanov, 21, an Estonian, who dodged the death penalty in exchange for his testimony, said Andrews delivered the fatal blow to Simberg's left lung and then 18-year-old Michael Drachev, of Tempe, set him ablaze. Tsoukanov is awaiting sentencing on second-degree murder charges.

Drachev, a Russian, has fled and police believe he has left the country.

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