Man accused of killing Indian techie in US denies charge

June 23rd, 2008 - 12:10 pm ICT by IANS  

New York, June 23 (IANS) The accused in the murder of an Indian computer professional and Hindu community activist in Houston three years ago has denied the charge. While testifying at the trial, Howard Dale Bellamy, 24, told jurors that he and his girlfriend spent time with his grandmother and went to eat a pizza during the time Akhil Chopra, 28, was robbed and shot in the temple with a revolver Aug 11, 2005.

However, Bellamy’s girlfriend, who testified earlier in the trial, did not back up his alibi.

Bellamy, an African American whose grandmother has died since he was arrested, has also admitted while on the stand to being a member of a street gang.

He is charged with capital murder. If convicted, he faces a mandatory life sentence with no chance of parole.

The assistant district attorney Shannon Davis said in the opening statement at the trial last week that Bellamy shot and killed Chopra, taking his wallet and afterwards dispensing the contents to friends like a Santa Claus.

Prosecutor Wendy Baker said Chopra went to a park in west Houston during his lunch hour. His body was discovered at about 1 p.m. there.

Baker told jurors: “Akhil Chopra was all alone in that park meditating, and that man killed him after he beat the hell out of him.”

Defence attorney Doug Durham said Bellamy’s girlfriend, Domonique Alston, could not be trusted and lied to protect another gang member.

Jurors are expected to continue deliberating Bellamy’s fate Monday.

The delay in the trial was required, in part, to gather evidence and analyse it.

Chopra was a techie who had come to the US in 2001 to do his master’s degree. He used to actively volunteer for many Hindu organisations as well as causes dear to him. He was a well-liked community member, according to a memorial website.

Chopra’s parents, his brother and his extended family lived in Ahmedabad and New Delhi.

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