Patel will not face 3rd trial in stabbing

City state's attorney decides after mistrial, overturned conviction

February 15, 2003|By Laurie Willis | Laurie Willis,SUN STAFF

A Canadian-born dentist who fatally stabbed her physician husband four years ago will not face a third trial, the Baltimore state's attorney's office announced yesterday.

Dr. Alpna Patel had been released after serving two years of a three-year sentence for voluntary manslaughter when her conviction was overturned in October by the Court of Special Appeals. Even if she was retried and again found guilty of manslaughter, Patel would not have received additional prison time.

"My decision not to retry this case is weighted by many factors, including the extensive allocation of court resources that would be needed," city State's Attorney Patricia C. Jessamy said in a prepared statement. "Legally there would be no additional prison time for Ms. Patel if she was tried and convicted again."

Prosecutors say Patel stabbed her husband, Viresh Patel, multiple times in the neck and chest in their Northwest Baltimore apartment March 24, 1999, and then refused to call for help as he lay bleeding. Her first trial ended in a mistrial after the presiding judge said that he felt the lone male juror had been coerced into voting not guilty on first-degree murder.

Patel was retried in September 2000 and convicted of voluntary manslaughter, but that conviction was overturned by the appeals court, which faulted a prosecutor for "outrageous" remarks to the jury.

In its 30-page ruling, the Court of Special Appeals didn't exonerate Patel but said she should have a new trial.

Reached by telephone last night, a man who identified himself as the father of Viresh Patel but declined to give his name, said, "This family has been through enough. Please, can we stop it from here?"

Efforts yesterday to reach Alpna Patel and her attorney, Edward Smith Jr., were unsuccessful.

Patel's case gained international attention. Her arranged marriage to Viresh Patel occurred after her family placed ads in magazines and on the Internet. She and her parents wanted her to marry a man from an elite Hindu caste who came from the Indian state of Gujarat and shared similar cultural values.

Viresh Patel was a doctor at Union Memorial Hospital at the time of his death, 10 months after the wedding.

Sun staff writer Josh Mitchell contributed to this article.

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