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A Conspiracy, Dowry, and Snakebite: Kerala Court’s Verdict on Uthra Murder Case

Uthra, a 25-year-old woman in Kerala, was bitten by a venomous snake planted by her husband Sooraj, and she died. Today, the court will pronounce its verdict in the murder case. Kollam Additional Sessions Court Judge M Manoj is expected to pronounce the verdict. On May 7, 2020, Uthra died in sleep at her parents’ house in Anchal, 40 km east of Kollam, from a snake bite, according to the case. Uthra, a mother of a one-year-old son, had been married for two years.

Prosecutors allege that her 27-year-old husband, a bank employee, released a poisonous snake in their room to kill her. Before planting the snake that bit her, the accused allegedly gave her sleeping pills. Additionally, it was revealed that the accused released a snake on March 2 last year as well. The snake bite that Uthra sustained at her husband’s house at Parakkode near Adoor in Pathanamthitta on March 2 required 16 days of treatment at a private medical college in Thiruvalla, Pathanamthitta. Due to the Rusell’s Viper bite, she was bedridden for 52 days and had to undergo plastic surgery to repair the damage.

According to Uthra‚Äôs mother, Manimegalai, her daughter, and Sooraj went to bed after dinner. Sooraj, who usually wakes up late, went outside unusually early the next day. Uthra, however, didn’t wake up at her usual time. Her mother found her unconscious in her room. In the meantime, the room was being searched and they found a cobra which was killed later. Her husband received a dowry of Rs 10 lakh in cash, property, a new car, and over 100 sovereigns of gold. He allegedly committed the crime after failing to receive more dowry from her family.

On May 24, he was arrested based on suspicions raised by Uthra’s family. Sooraj confessed on July 12 that he had bought two snakes from Chavarukavu Suresh Kumar, a snake catcher from Parippally in Kollam, for Rs 10,000 on two occasions. The investigation team headed by former Rural SP S Harishankar submitted scientific evidence to the court, such as the autopsy reports conducted on Uthra and the snake. Sooraj attempted to kill Uthra on two separate occasions by getting the poisonous snakes to bite her, according to the charge sheet that ran into over 1,000 pages and was submitted on November 1.

Although the snake charmer who gave the poisonous snakes to Sooraj was named as an accused in the case, he turned approver in the trial which began on December 1. He informed the court that he had given the item to Sooraj without knowing its correct purpose. The police team investigating Uthra’s murder attempted to recreate the crime scene with a live snake and a dummy.

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Reconstruction of the state training center of the forest department took place last year at Arippa in Kollam. In the analysis of the bite marks data, there were significant variances in the results. The snake bit after being poked on the body, leaving bite marks that were 1.7 cm wide. The bite mark ranged from 2 cm to 2.4 cm when the snake was grabbed by the hand and forced to bite. The charges against Sooraj include murdering his wife, as well as domestic violence against his parents and sister. Many people, including Uthra’s parents Vijayasenan and Manimegalai, are anxiously awaiting the murder verdict.


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