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NRI convicted of killing four family members-
Jury Recommends Death

NRI family owned a motel- killings were over a business dispute


LOS ANGELES, April 30, 2005
NRI Press

The prosecution said the brothers had set fire to the house of their rival in Hollywood Hills. Gita Kumar, 42, her mother-in-law Sitaben Patel, 63, son Paras Kumar, 18, and daughter Tulsi Kumar, 16, perished.

A Superior Court jury late today recommended death for a Cypress businessman convicted of killing four family members in the Hollywood Hills three years ago, the District Attorney’s office announced.

The jury deliberated about a day and a half before recommending that 35-year-old Pravin Govin of Cypress receive the death penalty for the May 4, 2002, murders of the wife, children and mother-in-law of a business rival. The defendant, wearing a navy blue suit, showed no emotion when the jury’s recommendation was read.

Trial Judge Kathleen Kennedy-Powell scheduled formal sentencing for June 13. Defense lawyers are expected to argue for a new trial and ask that the judge not impose the death penalty.

If the judge upholds the jury recommendation, Pravin Govin will join his 37-year-old elder brother, Victor, on California’s Death row. The brothers were tried last year. Victor Govin was convicted and sentenced to death just before Christmas 2004. The jury deadlocked on Pravin Govin’s case and his retrial began in February of this year.

A third defendant, 28-year-old Carlos M. Amador of Los Angeles, pleaded guilty to four counts of second-degree murder in 2003 and testified against the Govin brothers. He is scheduled to be sentenced on April 22 to four concurrent 15-year-to-life prison terms.

On April 4, the jury convicted Pravin Govin of four counts of first-degree murder and found true the special circumstances of murder for financial gain, multiple murder and murder during a robbery and a burglary. That trigged the penalty phase of the trial before the same jury. Deliberations on the penalty began yesterday.

Gita Kumar, 42; her mother, Sitaben Patel, 63; and her children, Paras, 18, and Tulsi, 16, perished in the arson fire at their home in the Hollywood Hills. Harish Kumar, Gita’s husband, then 47, was not at home when the fire was set. He arrived a short time later and called 911 when he could not get inside to his family.

The Kumar family owned a motel in Studio City that was next to a motel owned by the Govin family. The killings were over a business dispute.

Former Deputy District Attorney Eleanor Hunter, who prosecuted the case, was named a Los Angeles Superior Court judge as Pravin Govin’s retrial was getting under way. She delayed taking her seat on the bench until she had completed the prosecution.

The Govins and Amador have been held without bail since their arrests in 2002.

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