Kerala court convicts man for killing wife using snake

Kollam Additional Sessions Court on Monday found Sooraj, the prime accused in Uthra murder case, guilty and the quantum of sentence will be pronounced on Wednesday.

The court found him guilty under sections 302 (murder), 307 (attempt to murder), 328 (causing hurt by means of poison) and 201 (causing disappearance of evidence of offence) of the IPC.

Sooraj was brought to the court around 12 noon and he remained impassive during the proceedings . When the chargesheet was read, the accused said he has nothing to say. Prosecution had demanded capital punishment pointing out the brutal nature of the crime and Uthra’s family said they are grateful to the investigating team and prosecution. "We want him to get maximum punishment," said Uthra’s brother Vishnu.

Sooraj had used a cobra to murder his wife and it was his second attempt that took the twenty-five-year old’s wife. Uthra’s body was found on May 7 at her home in Anchal and she had survived an earlier snakebite and a viper was used for that. Her husband had paid ₹10,000 for the snakes from a handler, who later turned approver. The investigative team had conducted the autopsy of the snake to confirm that the DNA of the same snake was found in the bottle in which Sooraj kept the cobra. A dummy trial was also carried out to collect scientific evidence that proved the bite was not natural but induced.

‘Unconventional methods to prove Uthra was murdered’

Considering the rare nature of the case, the investigating team had to go for some unconventional methods to prove Uthra was murdered.

A team of officials from Animal Husbandry, Forest and Police Departments along with forensic experts dug out the carcass of cobra and conducted its autopsy. Though it was buried around 20 days back, its outer skin, scales, fangs and hood were found intact and it was confirmed that the reptile was a cobra. Later, the DNA of the same cobra was found in the jar in which Sooraj had kept the snake and the DNA match turned out an important piece of evidence.

In order to prove the bite was induced and not natural, the Crime Branch officials conducted a dummy trial at Forest Training Institute in Arippa. The cobra was let loose on the life-size dummy and a portion of its hand was wrapped in raw chicken meat warmed to body temperature. The measurement of natural bites and those induced by pressing the cobra on its head were taken.

The prosecution had submitted the report showing the difference in fang width in natural and induced cases. The fang width in the bite mark found in Uthra’s body was similar to induced and based on the trial it was also argued that consecutive bites on the same place are not possible in snakebite cases.

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