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Chiman Rai , 69 was sentenced life in prison


NRI Chiman Rai, 69 gets life for contract killing of son's wife, because she was black

ATLANTA, June 27, 2008
Satinder Sharma

On Friday, NRI professor Chiman Rai , 69 was sentenced life in prison by a Fulton County jury. He has been found guilty of hiring hitmen to murder his black daughter-in-law Sparkle Michelle Rai, 22, a month after she married to his son, Rajeeve "Ricky" Rai. He opposed their inter-racial marriage.

Sparkle Michelle Rai was murdered on April 26, 2000 in her Union City apartment while her 7-month-old daughter cried in another room. The case went unsolved until 2006.

The police arrested Clinique Jackson in unrelated charges and told the police that she and a friend watched Cleveland Clark, 50, strangle Sparkle and then stab her. After investigation:

  • Willie Fred Green, 60 and Herbert Evans,76, told police that they had hired Clark on behalf of Chiman Rai
  • Green said Rai paid $10,000 to kill his daughter-in-law Sparkle Michelle Rai as soon as posible. They met him at Chiman Rai's grocery store near their neighbrhood..
  • Chiman Rai had complained that his son had stolen tens of thousands of dollars from family businesses and was involved in drugs.
  • Clinique Jackson as a witness to the murder case, said, before stabbing Sparkle Rai, Clark asked her "Where are the drugs?"

The prosecutors said:

  • Chiman Rai couldn't stomach having Sparkle Rai as a daughter-in-law because she was black.
  • Chiman Rai believed that she brought shame to his family because she was black.
  • He wanted it done because an interracial marriage would stain the family's name in caste-conscious Indian society.
  • Willie Fred Green contended that he got the $10,000 from Rai's personal banker at an AmSouth branch in Jackson
  • Jurors were told that they didn't rely on Evans or Green or Jackson — who testified that Clark called Evans immediately after the killing to tell him "the job was done" and he was coming home for his money.
  • Chiman Rai's own words, recorded by Green for investigators:
    • You were the one handling all that," Rai said on the tape after Herbert Green alluded to sending a hit man to Atlanta on Rai's behalf. "I know nothing about that. There is nothing on me."

Prosecutors had sought the death penalty.

Defense lawyer, Don Samuel said:

  • This was not a crime motivated by greed and while I know the prosecution disagrees with me, this was not a hate crime.
  • Rai may have hired a hit man, he didn't order such a brutal killing
  • It is not necessary for you (jury) to kill Chiman Rai. He wasn't a racist and had strong support in the African-American community in Jackson, Miss., where he had run a grocery and other businesses.

Sparkle Michelle Rai's father Bennet Reid said:

  • He never suspected her in-laws involve and he had no idea why she had been killed
  • He thought the case would never be solved but his daughter finally got her voice.

Sparkle's child Analla is being raised by Donna Lowry stepmother and Sparkle's father, Bennet Reid.

In 1970, Chiman Rai immigrated to US with his family from India. He was a Math professor at Alcorn State University, Mississippi for ten years and later opened a supermarket and a hotel in Kentucky. Sparkle Michelle was an employee in this hotel when she met his son.




NRI professor Chiman Rai , 69 was sentenced life in prison