Indian American’s trial begins for murder of son’s black wife

June 18th, 2008 - 5:07 pm ICT by IANS  

New York, June 18 (IANS) Testifying in the trial in Atlanta of Chiman Rai, an Indian American charged with hiring killers to murder his daughter-in-law because she was black, his son Rajeeve “Ricky” Rai has accepted there was family pressure on the couple, forcing them to move cities. However, Ricky recanted his earlier statement that his parents were “kind of racist”, given to the police shortly after his wife, Sparkle Reid Rai, was found murdered in 2000 in their apartment in Union City near Atlanta in Georgia.

Taking the stand in the case Tuesday, he said he had either lied or made false assumptions when giving that comment.

Sparkle’s aunt, Ctoria Arnold, told the court that her niece’s in-laws didn’t like her. “She and Ricky both told me that,” she said, while acknowledging that Ricky loved Sparkle dearly.

Prosecutors are seeking death penalty for Chiman for paying $10,000 to a hitman to kill her because she was not Indian. He was indicted in 2006.

Chiman’s defence lawyers argue Sparkle was killed in a robbery. They say the case for a contract killing is very thin, merely based on the testimony of co-defendants and people they describe as liars.

Ricky found his wife stabbed and strangled to death on April 26, 2000, when he returned from work to their apartment. Their 6-month-old daughter Analla was left unharmed in a nearby room.

Cleveland Clark has been indicted for killing Sparkle and faces his own death penalty trial. Two co-defendants say they hired Clark at Chiman Rai’s behest.

Sparkle’ murder went unsolved until two witnesses came forward in 2004 and identified Clark as the killer and said he was helped by brother Carl Clark. Both were serving time in a Mississippi prison for armed robbery when they were charged for the murder.

Chiman brought his family to the US in 1970 from India. After teaching at Alcorn State University in Mississippi, he ran a supermarket and then bought a hotel in Louisville in Kentucky, where he hired Sparkle Reid as a clerk. Sparkle, daughter of a news reporter, fell in love with Ricky and the two married.

Testifying in court, Ricky said he married an Indian woman after his wife’s death. He has not seen Analla, on whom he once doted, since shortly after the murder. He gave custody of her to Sparkle’s father and step-mother.

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