A Mississippi businessman born in India was found guilty Thursday on charges that he arranged to have a hitman murder his African-American daughter-in-law.
A Fulton County jury returned the verdict a day after closing arguments in the trial of 68-year-old Chiman Rai.
Joey Ivansco / AJC
|Chiman Rai, 66, is a Mississippi businessman.|
|Sparkle Rai was killed in her Fulton County apartment in 2000, a month after marrying Rai’s son.|
Prosecutors contended that Rai had the daughter-in-law, Sparkle Rai, killed because he was a racist and believed an interracial marriage would embarrass his family in caste-conscious Indian society.
Prosecutors planned to seek the death penalty if Rai was convicted. The trial now goes into a sentencing phase.
Sparkle Rai was killed April 26, 2000, in a Fulton County apartment a month after marrying Rai’s son. The case baffled police for years until two years ago and authorities arrested Chiman Rai and four other men, including the alleged hit man, a Rai business associate and a retired Jackson, Miss., businessman.
Defense lawyer Jack Martin argued that the case was strong on suspicion and weak on evidence of either motive or Rai’s involvement. Repeated attempts by police to elicit incriminating comments from Rai through cooperating witnesses never produced a clear admission, he said.
Martin said two co-defendants who admitted to helping set up the killing just as likely sent a thug to Sparkle’s apartment in Union City eight years ago because they had heard from Rai that his son had stolen thousands of dollars from his businesses and may have a pile of cash and drugs in the apartment.
The two men got probation in exchange for testimony about their roles in the conspiracy.