Press Trust of India
Houston, 8 March: Jurors in a US court are deliberating today in the case of a 27-year-old Indian-origin woman facing a life sentence for allegedly killing her husband by setting him afire two years ago.
Shriya Patel's trial began on 4 March in Austin, Texas, with prosecutors accusing her of luring her husband Bimal into the bathtub for a massage, dousing him with gasoline and then setting him ablaze before shutting him in the bathroom.
Bimal Patel, 29, died at the burn centre of the San Antonio Military Medical Centre, nearly five months after the 17 April, 2012 incident.
Both sides have rested and closing arguments are expected today after state and defence lawyers work out the final charge against Shriya.
In the last of the defence evidence presented, defence lawyers showed financial records from the company that employed Bimal, a dash cam video that they have said captured a patrol officer on the scene suggesting the crime could have been a suicide and an analysis of Bimal's cellphone records.
The defence exhibits also include a text message in which Bimal says he received a letter about problems with his tax return, and says, “I'm fine but at the same time I feel like I'm about to snap”.
Prosecutors played security camera footage that captured Shriya alone inside a walmart purchasing what a receipt showed to be two candlesticks, nylon rope and masking tape.
Another video aired for jurors showed her arriving at a gas station in a cab and purchasing gasoline in a red gas can.
Shriya faces life in prison without parole if convicted, the Austin American-Statesman reported.
Her lawyers are arguing that her husband killed himself and forced her to help.
Bimal had met Shriya through an arranged marriage service in India. The two wed, but it took about a year for her to get a passport to come to the USA, and she had only been in the country a week when she decided to kill her husband, the prosecution said.
Shriya, who had studied in London and lived in Dubai, was used to an upper-class lifestyle and was disappointed to arrive in the USA to find that Bimal had been laid off from a telemarketing job, was struggling to pay his rent and did not have the wealth of his successful hotelier father and uncles.
Bimal's friends testified this week that Shriya had confessed to marrying him just to make her former lover jealous.