Indian-origin escapes jail in US due to family's Hindu culture

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Houston, Aug 31: A 46-year-old Indian-origin man in the US who stabbed his "overweight" wife twice in the abdomen has been spared a prison sentence because the judge agreed that his family would face "ostracism" as part of their Hindu culture.

Navinkumar Patel, from Kansas City, stabbed his wife with a pocketknife as she ate a bowl of cereal, and subsequently told police he had done it because his wife was "overweight".

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The cultural considerations weighed into his sentencing decision for Patel, Douglas County District Judge Robert Fairchild was quoted as saying by the local newspaper LJWorld.

Patel was arrested in June 2015 after he stabbed his wife at Lawrence's Super 8 Motel, which he owns. He pleaded no contest to felony charges of attempted second-degree murder and criminal threat in March.

Patel's attorney John Kerns called the case "unusual to say the least". Kerns, told the judge that in the Hindu culture of Patel's family, his wife and children would suffer if he were sentenced to prison. They would essentially be "ostracised," he said.

"The cultural part of it is very significant in this case," Judge Fairchild said. He sentenced Patel to probation but will not announce the terms until next month.

In court, the doctor who evaluated him, Bradley Grinage, testified that Patel suffers from bipolar disorder, an illness that was exacerbated by alcohol addiction.

If Patel stops drinking and continues to take his medication, Grinage said he is at a low risk for a repeat offence.

More than a dozen family members, including his wife, appeared in court to support him, while others wrote letters to Judge Fairchild asking for a lenient sentence.

"The cultural part of it is very significant in this case," Judge Fairchild said, adding that he did not want a prison sentence for Patel to further harm the family.

Instead, he was sentenced to serve probation, but was ordered to remain in jail until a plan is established to help prevent a repeat offence, the report said.

His family said they were willing to ensure he remains sober and follows a strict medication schedule.

Addressing the family, Judge Fairchild said, "It's going to take a community to make his sobriety stick. You cannot accept the fact that just because he's clean now he's going to stay that way."

Patel is scheduled to next appear in court on September 8.

PTI

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