Kerala Snakebite Murder- Disable Women Killed
Based On True Incident
Kerala snakebite murder was a case in which the victim, Uthra, a twenty-five-year-old woman, was killed by a snakebite inflicted while she was asleep on 7 May 2020. She was in her parents' home in Anchal, located in the South Indian state of Kerala
Her husband, Sooraj S. Kumar, a twenty-seven-year-old bank employee, was arrested. Later, he confessed to the public media that he purchased a cobra, and introduced the snake into their bedroom, with the intention of killing his wife.
Kerala Police produced strong scientific evidence that supported a charge of murder.In Kollam sessions court, on 13 October 2021, Sooraj S. Kumar was found guilty of killing his wife by forcing a live cobra to bite her. Judge M. Manoj sentenced him to 17 years imprisonment plus double life imprisonment and a monetary penalty of 5 lakh rupees.
Uthra was a disabled young housewife who had been married for two years, and was the mother of a one-year-old son.At the time, Uthra was recovering from a previous Russell's viper bite, inflicted on 2 March 2020, two months prior at her husband's home near Adoor, and she was living in her parents' home during her recovery. The viper bite caused her to be completely bed-ridden for around 52 days, and she had to undergo plastic surgery to repair the damage.
She was found unconscious in her bedroom in her parents' home when her mother came to call her in the morning. It appeared that she had been bitten by a snake during the night of 6 May 2020. Uthra died the next day, 7 May 2020. A large Indian cobra was found in the bedroom that she shared with her husband.
According to Uthra's mother, Manimegalai,her daughter and Sooraj went to bed after dinner. The next morning Sooraj, usually a late riser, woke up unusually early and went outside. However, Uthra didn't wake up at her usual time. Her mother went into her room and found Uthra unconscious. Later, the room was searched, and the cobra was discovered and killed.
Complaint and Evidence
One week after his daughter's death, Uthra's father, Vijayasenan,contacted police, stating that he suspected foul play in his daughter's death.He filed a complaint on 21 May to Kerala Police, calling it an unnatural death. Her parents stated that, because Uthra and her husband were sleeping in an air-conditioned room, it would have been difficult for the cobra to enter the room without being detected.
Uthra had already informed her parents about Sooraj Kumar's expertise in handling venomous snakes.Approximately two months prior to her death from the cobra bite, Uthra had been bitten by a Russell's viper. The combination of the two incidents caused police to suspect Soorag Kumar's involvement in this case.
Noted snake expert Vava Suresh took interest in the incident. After visiting both homes, he recommended that Uthra's family contact the police. Later, Vava Suresh gave his expert testimony and statement to the police. In the first snakebite incident, he said that a Russell's viper would have been unable to reach the second story room in her husband's home, where Uthra received the first snake bite.
In regards to the second, fatal bite, Vava Suresh also noted that it would have been difficult for the cobra to enter the air-conditioned room in Uthra's parents' home unaided. He surmised that the cobra may have been "hurt", as a means of forcing it to bite the sleeping woman.
Sooraj S. Kumar, a private bank employee, is said to have planned the murder by watching snake handling videos on the internet and receiving training to handle venomous snakes.His motive was to take ownership of his wife's dowry in gold,as well as her life insurance policy.Police received information that Sooraj had obtained a life insurance policy on his wife a few months prior to her death.
Uthra's father said that "he had gifted over 100 sovereigns of gold and a new car" to Sooraj and his family,in addition to ₹10 lakh cash.
The case became a major reference point in the criminology syllabus, since Suraj employed a natural weapon to commit the murder.Lack of the history of such a crime made it difficult for the investigation team to determine that murder was committed. In December, 2020, the snake catcher, Chavarukavu Suresh Kumar, testified to the court that Sooraj contacted him and purchased a snake.
Suresh learned of Uthra's death from the newspapers. Sooraj told Suresh that he no longer wished to be wed to a disabled wife and that people would attribute his wife's death to "sarpa dosha", the wrath of snakes (a popular belief). Suresh said he was distressed by Uthra's death. According to his testimony, snakes he captured were usually released into the forest with assistance from Indian Forest officials.
In court, Sooraj was found guilty for using a live cobra to kill his wife Uthra.On 13 October 2021, Kollam Additional District and Sessions Court, lead by additional sessions judge Manoj M, sentenced Sooraj to 17 years imprisonment plus two consecutive life sentences, and an additional penalty of five lakh rupees. This is considered to be the first case in the state of Kerala in which a murder involved the use of a live animal as the weapon.
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