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
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 Attorneys 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 jurys recommendation was
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 Californias 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 Govins 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
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, Gitas 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 Govins 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.