The Texas 3rd Court of Appeals has upheld the conviction of Ms. Shriya Patel, 29, convicted in March 2014 of causing a fire that killed her husband Bimal Patel in April 2012. The court has sentenced Shriya to 20 years in prison for the first-degree arson that led to Bimal’s death. She had been on trial for murder but was found guilty of the lesser first-degree felony of arson causing death and had been facing a penalty of five years to life in prison or probation.
Shriya moved to the US to join her Indian-American husband a year after an arranged marriage in India. According to the prosecution, she had been in the US for just a week at the time of the incident and had planned his murder. She had married him reluctantly, only to make jealous another man in Mumbai to whom she lost her virginity.
Chelsea Schwierking, an American witness Schwierking, whose husband was Bimal's schoolmate at Texas Tech, had attended the marriage in India, testified in court and said that she had heard this from Shriya herself during the wedding. It is said that Shriya was also disappointed with her husband's financial position who was struggling to make ends meet. She had instead expected to arrive at a wealthy PIO husband's home. Hence, according to the defense, it was Bimal who persuaded her to help him commit suicide, and she obliged as a "dutiful" Indian wife.
The court found there was sufficient evidence to uphold the verdict and that even “an erroneous jury instruction wouldn’t have changed the jury’s decision”.