Mother-in-law testifies against wife of slain doctor

Mention of telephone cord might be used by prosecutor

September 09, 2000|By Tim Craig | Tim Craig,SUN STAFF

The mother of Alpna Patel's husband testified yesterday she saw her daughter-in-law holding `very close' a telephone cord immediately after his slaying, a claim that may help prosecutors in their case against the Canadian dentist.

Chandrika Patel testified that she saw the cord touching Alpna Patel, who is on trial in Baltimore Circuit Court for manslaughter.

Assistant State's Attorney William McCollum may use that revelation to link Alpna Patel to a cut phone cord that police discovered after her husband, Viresh Patel, was stabbed six times.

McCollum argued in Alpna Patel's first murder trial that the cut telephone cord proved the death was not an accident. That trial ended in a mistrial in February.

Alpna Patel's attorney, Edward Smith Jr., tried to discredit the testimony yesterday about the telephone cord, demanding to know why Chandrika Patel had not previously disclosed that in testimony in the first trial or in her statement to police.

If the cut cord is introduced into evidence in this trial, Smith may also use that information to argue that Alpna Patel was attempting to call for help.

Smith had called Chandrika Patel to the stand yesterday to answer questions about why she would wipe off a bloody knife used to kill her son unless she thought she was covering up for him.

"At the time, I was not in my senses," said Chandrika Patel, 51, who was sleeping on a couch in her son's Pimlico apartment at the time of the slaying.

Smith was forced to call Chandrika Patel after McCollum abruptly ended the state's case Thursday without calling her or another critical witness from the first trial, Detective Marvin Sydnor.

Smith is expected to continue presenting the defense case on Monday. Alpna Patel is expected to testify Monday or Tuesday.

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