An Indian man has received a double life sentence after he was found guilty of murdering his wife with a venomous cobra.
Twenty-eight-year-old Sooraj Kumar was sentenced on October 13 after being convicted on October 11 in a lower court in the state of Kerala, according to NBC.
Prosecutors asserted Kumar murdered his wife Uthra, 25, to obtain her gold jewelry and to marry another woman, the Indian Express reported.
Prosecutors also said that Kumar married Uthra for financial gain, but he became unhappy in the marriage, according to NBC.
“If he divorces her he will have to part with all her wealth,” assistant superintendent of police in Kerala, Hariram Shankar, informed NBC News. “If he kills her through an explicit murder weapon, the wealth would also have to be returned. So he wanted to get rid of her through something that would resemble an accident.”
“But in the course of our investigation, we found that this was a well-planned murder,” Shankar told NBC.
Kumar carried out the diabolical act on May 6, 2020, according to the Indian Express.
Only two months earlier, Kumar allegedly attempted to murder Uthra with a viper, according to NBC.
On March 2, 2020, Kumar allegedly released a venomous viper in Uthra’s bedroom, which resulted in the serpent biting her. Authorities said Uthra spent almost two months in the hospital, according to the New York Post.
The fatal snake attack occurred when she was recovering at her parents’ house in May of 2020. According to NBC, prosecutors said Kumar had obtained a cobra from a snake charmer and starved it for a week to provoke aggression in the serpent.
Prosecutors said he then set the snake loose on his sleeping wife, who was still recovering from her viper bite, the Post reports. Prosecutors noted that Kumar abided by his usual morning routine before Uthra’s death was discovered by her mother.
According to the Indian Express, a snake charmer named Suresh was arrested for supplying Kumar with the snake.
Murders with snakes are becoming prevalent in India, according to India’s Supreme Court. On October 6, a man named Krishna Kumar was denied bail after being charged in connection with a June 2019 snake murder, NBC reports.
“This is a new trend that people bring poisonous snakes from snake charmers and kill a person through snakebite,” Justice Surya Kant said at Kumar’s bail hearing, according to NBC.
Kumar and two other defendants are accused of murdering Rajasthan woman Subodh Devi, after she confronted her daughter-in-law Alpana regarding an affair that Alpana was having, NBC reports. Alpana, her partner Manish, and Kumar allegedly purchased a snake from a charmer. A bag holding the snake was allegedly placed near Devi’s bed.
NBC reports that fatal snake bites are relatively common in India. The outlet cited a statistic from the World Health Organization (WHO) that shows from 2000 through 2019, 1.2 million people died of snake bites in the country.