Indian man receives double life sentence for killing wife with cobra

A man found guilty of murdering his wife by having her bite her by a cobra while she was sleeping has been sentenced to the rare punishment by the Kerala court.

An Indian who used a cobra and a viper to murder his wife has been sentenced to double life imprisonment in what prosecutors have called “the rarest of the few” cases.

Sooraj Kumar, 28, unleashed a very poisonous Russell’s viper snake on his wife Uthra who left her in hospital for almost two months, South Kerala state prosecutors have said.

While she was recuperating from her parents, he obtained a cobra from a snake handler and threw it at his sleeping wife. Her poisonous bite killed the 25-year-old in May 2020.

Kumar was arrested at his home last year after Uthra’s parents raised suspicions, alleging their daughter was being harassed for more dowry. The woman’s parents said Kumar tried to take control of her property after the death.

On Monday, a Kollam District Court in Kerala found Kumar guilty of murdering and poisoning his wife, and previously attempting to kill her using a Russell viper.

Judge M Manoj on Wednesday sentenced the convict to two consecutive life sentences, but did not accept the prosecution’s request for capital punishment given his age and the possibility of reform, reported the local media.

“Diabolical plan”

Kumar has pleaded not guilty, but police said his phone records showed he was in contact with snake handlers and watched snake videos on the internet prior to the March murder of last year in Kollam.

Kumar remained in the room with Uthra after the cobra bit her and continued with his morning routine the next day when he was alerted by the woman’s mother, prosecutors said.

“The method of execution and the evil plan of the accused to murder Uthra, his bedridden wife, make him [the case] fall into the category of the rarest of the few ”, declared the public prosecutor, who had requested the death penalty.

Snake master Vava Suresh said it was possible that Kumar “inflicted pain on the reptile to cause it to bite,” the Hindustan Times reported as quoting it.

Uthra came from a wealthy family, but her husband, a bank clerk, was not well off. Their marriage involved a large dowry including a new car and 500,000 rupees (approximately $ 6,640).

According to media reports, Kumar’s family have been charged with conspiracy after some of Uthra’s gold was found buried near his home days after the murder.

India’s Supreme Court recently warned of a trend in snakebite killings by denying bail to a woman and her “lover” accused of using a cobra to kill her stepmother in the state of northern Rajasthan in 2019.

The biggest challenge in the Kerala case was to prove that the snakebite was homicidal, said prosecutor G Mohanraj, adding that the court had been subjected to a test which showed the difference between natural and induced bite marks. .

Two defendants have been acquitted by the courts in similar cases in recent years after prosecutions failed to prove that poisonous snakes were used as a “murder weapon”, The Hindu newspaper reported.

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