Indian techie’s killer sentenced to life in US (Lead)

June 24th, 2008 - 10:11 pm ICT by IANS  

New York, June 24 (IANS) An African American youth has been convicted for the 2005 murder of an Indian software professional and community activist in the US and will have to serve a life sentence. The jury in the State District court in Harris County of Houston Monday convicted Howard Dale Bellamy of capital murder, which meant an automatic punishment of life without parole because prosecutors did not seek a death sentence, the Houston Chronicle reported.

Bellamy, 24, was accused of robbing and killing Akhil Chopra in a Houston park where the latter had gone to meditate.

Chopra, an active volunteer for many Hindu organisations, came to the US from Ahmedabad in 2001 to pursue his master’s degree. He was found dead Aug 11, 2005 with a gunshot wound on his temple and his wallet missing. He was 28 at the time of the murder.

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

Prosecutors said Bellamy beat Chopra before shooting him with a .38-calibre revolver.

Bellamy, while testifying, had earlier tried to give the alibi that at the time of his murder he and his girlfriend spent time with his grandmother and then went to eat a pizza. However, the girlfriend in question, Domonique Alston, did not back his alibi.

Defence attorney Doug Durham told jurors that Alston could not be trusted and lied to protect another member of the gang to which Bellamy belonged.

The trial was delayed for three years, mainly to gather evidence and analyse it.

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