Local News

Jury still deliberating in Cary man's murder trial

Posted December 17, 2009 5:59 p.m. EST
Updated December 17, 2009 6:08 p.m. EST

— Jury deliberation continued Thursday in the trial of Harish Patel, a Cary man accused of killing his estranged wife and setting her body on fire last year.

The body of Vanlata Patel, 57, was found in a brush fire along Interstate 85 in Mecklenburg County, Va., on Jan. 16, 2008. Her husband was arrested days later and charged with first-degree murder.

Prosecutors maintain Harish Patel suffocated his wife in his apartment because they were going through a contentious divorce. They fought over money, and he was suspicious that she was involved romantically with a mutual friend.

Defense attorneys, however, have argued that the state's case is a theory and that investigators avoided evidence that might have led them in another direction.

The jury will resume deliberations Friday morning.

If convicted, the maximum sentence Harish Patel could receive is life in prison without parole.