A man convicted of killing his wife by forcing a venomous cobra to bite her has received a rare double life sentence in India. Police determined Sooraj Kumar had twice used snakes in an attempt to kill his 25-year-old wife Uthra, succeeding on the second attempt. Uthra, mother to a 1-year-old, spent more than 50 days in a hospital after suffering a bite from a Russell's viper in March 2020, per the Indian Express. She was still recovering when she was attacked by a cobra in a bedroom at her parents' home in Anchal two months later on May 7, per Newsweek. Her family members were adamant that it was murder.
They said Sooraj had been harassing them for dowry, per the BBC. They also said he'd retired to the room with his wife on the previous evening before leaving early the next morning. It was then that Uthra's mother found her unconscious, per Newsweek. Police said an investigation showed the 28-year-old husband was responsible for Uthra's snake bites, including the fatal one delivered by a cobra released onto her bed, which was later captured and killed. A 1,000-page case file described how Sooraj had researched snakes before procuring the viper and cobra from a snake catcher, who turned police informant, per the BBC and Newsweek.
DNA tests confirmed the cobra given to Sooraj was the same one that bit Uthra, who'd been given a sleep-inducing drug. Police, who performed an experiment with a cobra and a dummy, determined the snake wouldn't have bitten her unless forced. Prosecutors pursued the death penalty, arguing this was "rarest of rare cases." Convicted Monday at a Kollam court, Sooraj on Wednesday received a life sentence for murder, a life sentence for attempted murder, a 10-year sentence for causing harm using poison, and a 7-year sentence for evidence tampering, per the Express. The latter two sentences are to be served consecutively before the life sentences begin. (Read more murder stories.)