An Indian-origin man, accused of fatally stabbing his sister 107 times during an altercation, has been acquitted by a US federal jury on all charges of murder and illegally possessing a weapon.
Vishnu Phagoo, 37, of Jersey City was arrested in February 2011 and charged with the September 2010 murder of his sister Shrimatie Parasram, 45, in her home.
The jury acquitted Phagoo on charges of murder, unlawful possession of a weapon and possession of a weapon for an unlawful purpose and all other charges after less than four hours of deliberations, The Jersey Journal reported.
Phagoo would, however, remain in jail because he faces an arson charge from a 2009 incident where he allegedly tried to burn down the Jersey City home of a different relative, the paper said.
Phagoo was accused of killing his sister on the morning of September 16, 2010 when he had gone to her apartment to sell her a cell phone, his lawyer Scott Finckenauer told The Jersey Journal.
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Parasram was found dead in her apartment in the afternoon of that day, he said.
At the center of the trial was the question of whether Phagoo was with Parasram when she was dyeing her hair, Finckenauer said.
When Parasram was found dead, her hair was in the middle of being dyed, he said.
Phagoo had arrived at Parasram’s apartment while she was on the phone with their sister, he said.
During the trial, Parasram’s sister testified that Parasram told her over the phone that she was dyeing her hair, he said.
Under cross-examination however Parasram’s sister said that Parasram had actually said that she was going to dye her hair, Finckenauer said.
Finckenauer said that without a time frame of when Parasram started dyeing her hair, the prosecution could not prove that Phagoo was in Parasram’s apartment when she was stabbed to death.
No physical evidence was presented during the trial that showed Phagoo was in the apartment when the murder occurred, he said.
A medical examiner who testified during the trial also did not testify as to when Parasram died.
“My client’s happy that the jury saw that there was no evidence that proved that he did this,” Finckenauer said.
“I felt comfortable that we were going to get this.”