2008-06-27

Contract Killing of Daughter In Law, She Was The Wrong Color

This is a sad story all around. I don't know who to be mad at more, the father who hired people to murder his daughter-in-law because she was black, or the son, who in other reports, seemed to defend his father. The son has since remarried to an indian woman, and has no contact with his half black daughter who is 8 years old, and who he hasn't seen since she was 6 months old. I guess being black is or associated with black is a curse to some. I get more and more apathetic to race relations in America. Remind me not to watch "Roots" right now.

I found the story initially at Aunt Jemima's Revenge.

Verdict a balm to Sparkle Rai's grieving dad

Prosecutors said Chiman Rai had son's wife killed because she was black

By STEVE VISSER
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Published on: 06/26/08
Bennet Reid dabbed his eyes when jurors announced Thursday they had convicted Chiman Rai of having Reid's daughter murdered eight years ago because she had married Rai's son.

The 68-year-old Rai couldn't stomach having Sparkle Rai as a daughter-in-law because she was black, prosecutors contended.


Joey Ivansco / AJC
Chiman Rai, 66, is a Mississippi businessman.


Sparkle Rai was killed in her Fulton County apartment in 2000, a month after marrying Rai's son.

See photos
Recent headlines:

Rec center gets 'extreme makeover'
Atlanta council members try to avert tax hike
Immigration chief in Atlanta to congratulate staff
• Atlanta and Fulton County news
"For my daughter and my granddaughter, this is the best thing that could have happened," said Reid, who once thought the case would never be solved. "My daughter finally got her voice."

The jury — which convicted Rai in six hours — will return Friday to decide whether to sentence him to death.

For years, Reid said, he had no idea who stabbed and strangled his daughter in her Union City apartment while her 7-month-old daughter cried in another room.

He never suspected her in-laws and he had no idea why she had been killed a month after marrying Rajeeve "Ricky" Rai.

The case broke in 2006 when Clinique Jackson was arrested on unrelated charges and offered to help police solve a killing she witnessed as a teenager. She said she and a friend watched Cleveland Clark, now 51, strangle Sparkle and then stab her. Investigators soon tied Clark to Willie Fred Evans and later Herbert Green in Mississippi, where the wealthy Chiman Rai ran a neighborhood grocery.

Green, in his mid-60s, and Evans, 76, testified that they had hired Clark on behalf of Rai in April 2000. Green said Rai paid $10,000 and said he needed his son's new wife killed quickly. Prosecutors contended the elder Rai, a native of India, wanted it done because an interracial marriage would stain the family's name in caste-conscious Indian society.

Evans and Green were so crucial to the prosecution's case that Howard offered them probation for their role in the murder conspiracy in exchange for their testimony.

Defense lawyers Don Samuel and Jack Martin contended Evans and Green, a business associate of Rai, cooked up the story to get the "sweetheart deal" when it was just as likely that the two elderly crooks had sent Clark over to rob Sparkle and Ricky Rai.

The elder Rai had complained his son had stolen tens of thousands of dollars from family businesses and was involved in drugs. Jackson, the witness to the murder, said the first thing Clark asked Sparkle Rai when he attacked her was, "Where are the drugs?"

Evans and Green had lied to investigators repeatedly and Evans even admitted to lying on the witness stand. "You can have hundred liars testify to something and it is not worth anything," Martin told jurors.

The defense lawyers contended there was little evidence that Rai was a racist and brought in more of a dozen witnesses — mostly African-American — who said Rai was a stalwart citizen in the black neighborhood in which he did business. He had also taught at Alcorn State University and studied at the then-Atlanta University, two historically black schools.

Moreover, Green contended that he got the $10,000 from Rai's personal banker at an AmSouth branch in Jackson but there was no record of the transaction and the banker, Gary Nowell, testified he never would have counted $10,000 in cash without recording it.

But prosecutors Sheila Ross and Eleanor Ross told jurors they didn't rely on Evans or Green or Jackson — who testified that Clark called Evans immediately after the killing to tell him "the job was done" and he was coming home for his money.

They had Rai's own words, recorded by Green for investigators.

"You were the one handling all that," Rai said on the tape after Herbert Green alluded to sending a hit man to Atlanta on Rai's behalf. "I know nothing about that. There is nothing on me."

Asked if the evidence had worried him, a relieved Bennet Reid said he had put his faith in the two prosecutors.

"They gave me the strength to make me feel that this was the way it would turn out," he said.