LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — Authorities announced Friday that a 57-year-old man was sentenced to life in state prison without the possibility of parole for orchestrating his wife’s killing in their San Dimas home in 1991.
On Jan. 24, a jury found Shanker Chhaganbahi Patel guilty of first-degree murder after a 2 ½ month trial. Jurors also found true the special circumstance allegation of lying in wait.
Deputy D.A John Monaghan said on Nov. 19, 1991, Usha Patel, 29, was on her way to pick up her 7-year-old daughter from school when she was attacked in the garage of the couple’s San Dimas home.
The assailant fatally stabbed the victim in the chest and neck, duct taped her mouth and nose and bound her feet. The attacker then placed the victim’s body in the trunk of her car and drove the vehicle to a nearby middle school, where he abandoned the car. Later that day, a sheriff’s deputy saw Usha Patel’s vehicle and discovered her body inside, the prosecutor said.
Although authorities investigated the slaying, the case eventually went cold.
In 2010, detectives returned to the cold case and reexamined evidence found at the scene, including gloves discovered in the front passenger seat of the victim’s car, the prosecutor added.
Using the California DNA Data Bank Program, law enforcement linked DNA found inside the gloves to Miguel Angel Garcia, 66. In June 2012, Garcia was charged with Patel’s fatal stabbing and subsequently pleaded no contest to first-degree murder. Garcia was sentenced on May 10, 2013, to 25 years to life in state prison.
The investigation further revealed that in the fall of 1991, Shanker Patel paid a middle man $7,500 to organize his wife’s murder. The defendant told the co-conspirator where and when to kill his wifel, the prosecutor said.
The middle man provided these details to Garcia, who then carried out the crime, according to the prosecutor.
Shanker Patel was charged with capital murder in Feb. 2013. The defendant was apprehended in Atlanta and returned to California to face criminal prosecution.
According to evidence presented at trial, the defendant was having an affair prior to the killing. Additionally, Usha Patel, a law school student, told her husband she planned to leave him after she passed the California Bar Exam.