State rests case against woman accused of setting husband on fir - MyFoxAustin.com | KTBC Fox 7 | News, Weather, Sports

State rests case against woman accused of setting husband on fire

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The state has rested its case against a woman accused of setting her husband on fire. Prosecutors ended with testimony from fingerprint experts. They testified Shriya Patel's prints were on a white bucket and plastic covering a sprinkler but not the red gas can.

Patel, 27, is charged with capital murder, arson and aggravated assault. Prosecutors say Patel lured her husband Bimal Patel into the bathroom for a massage and set him on fire inside their North Austin apartment in 2012.

Her attorneys say Patel wanted to kill himself and forced his wife to help him.

AFD Arson Investigator Captain Andy Reardon spent the morning on the stand going over his findings from the arson investigation. He walked jurors through pictures that were taken of the bathroom. Heavy, dark soot surrounds the foot of the bath tub. Some of the soot marks are smeared indicating to Reardon someone tried to get out of the tub.

"Heavy soot indicates where the fire started," explained Reardon.

Based on the evidence and burn patterns on Patel's body Reardon believes there were two candles lit in the bathroom.

"One was on the sink and another on the tub and they were already lit," said Reardon.

"The suspect opened the door and threw the blue cup of gasoline on him so that ignition source cased a flash fire where the victim was laying in the tub," Reardon went on to explain.

When the vaporized gasoline and the candle met it created a flash fire which went up the bathroom wall.

Reardon says at some point there may have been a little bit of water in the bath tub but it wasn't full when the fire happened.

Based on his expertise he says there's no way Patel could have done this to himself.

During Reardon's cross examination Patel's attorney Joe James Sawyer brought up information on Bimal Patel's cell phone.

He says Reardon was investigating two possible theories. One, that Shriya Patel did this or that Bimal Patel wanted to kill himself.

Information on the cell phone shows Patel downloaded a picture of a man's burned body, a resuscitation device and information on smoke inhalation. Also an outgoing text message he sent said 'I feel like I'm going to snap weighted down like a branch on a tree being pulled down.'

Sawyer also says Bimal Patel's privates were unscathed by the fire and that cotton balls were placed in his nose making the inference that Patel knew what was coming.

Bimal Patel's friends testified this week he was excited about marrying Shriya and for her to arrive in Austin.

Friday morning the defense will begin its case. Judge David Crain expects closing arguments Friday afternoon and the jury will begin deliberations.

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