What we know about the man charged with killing a Holocaust survivor

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FLINT TOWNSHIP (WJRT) - (12/28/17) - Dmitri Zavalnitski, 32, appeared in court Thursday on charges unrelated to his pending murder case.

Zavalnitski has been charged in the death of Holocaust survivor, Leonid Yufa. The 79-year-old was found dead in his home on Lennington Court in the Cambrige Square Apartment Complex on Dec. 19.

The Flint Township Police Department says Zavalnitski broke into Yufa's apartment and suffocated him. Zavalnitski is now facing felony murder, first-degree home invasion and possession of burglary tools.

He's also charged with second-degree home invasion for allegedly breaking into someone's home in April of this year. That home is in the same apartment complex, just around the corner from where Yufa lived.

"I think that what we have is maybe a situation where investigators on this case might be reaching conclusions a little bit too early without all the evidence. And like I said, we look forward to all of that evidence coming out," said Nicholas Robinson, Zavalnitski's defense attorney.

Right now, Zavalnitski has a few other charges pending, as well, from earlier this year. He was in court Thursday morning for a disorderly intoxication charge.

That happened in June, but the judge said he didn't show up for his court date in September or October. A pre-trial hearing on that charge and a charge of driving with a suspended license is expected next week.

Then, hearings will begin for the charges related to Leonid Yufa's death.

"Our heart goes out to the victim," Robinson said. "Any loss of life, anywhere for any reason is obviously unfortunate. And, we look forward to working with everybody that we possibly can to make sure there's a just resolution across the board for this."

In a previous interview, Yufa's daughters said their 79-year-old father survived the Holocaust and then moved to Flint over 20 years ago as a Jewish refugee from the Soviet Union.

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