Jurors deliberate punishment for Patel - MyFoxAustin.com | KTBC Fox 7 | News, Weather, Sports

Jurors deliberate punishment for Patel

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Travis County jurors went back to the deliberation room a little after 4 p.m. as they determine a punishment for Shriya Patel, 27. Jurors have a range they can consider. Anywhere from 5 to 99 years or life and also probation. Patel has no prior felonies.

Both sides waived their right to opening statements during the punishment phase and moved to calling witnesses. The state called Rob Newman to the stand. He met Bimal Patel during college at Texas Tech University. He described Patel's infectious attitude for life

Newman worked for the Navy and spent time in Afghanistan and Guatemala. During his deployments he said his friendship with Bimal was a constant.

"I could be in the depths of war and know there's hope after one call," said Newman.

"When we talked it was always about the future. Trying to become the best people we could going from boys to men and talking about our plans," said Newman. Part of that plan included Shriya. Newman said Bimal wanted her to marry him as a peer and he was looking for someone who could love him.

In college, Patel worked to start Tour de Tech Terrace, a charity bike tour around the neighborhood near the campus university. Newman said he was absolutely stunned to hear what happened to Bimal. Despite his situation he remained hopeful in the burn unit at Brooke Army Medical Center.

"He asked how you were and how he wanted to get out in two weeks," said Newman. After Newman, Gabe Hogan testified. He also met Patel at Texas Tech University. Hogan confirmed all of what Newman had said about Bimal.

"Bimal was the happiest most positive person I've ever met. He didn't have quit in him," said Hogan about Patel.

Hogan described for the jury visiting Bimal in the hospital. "He looked like a monster. It was worse than anything I could imagine but when I connected with his eyes all of that went away," said Hogan. Patel spent four and a half months at the hospital before he died. Hogan said life stopped the day Bimal died. Patel's friends had made plans to meet at the hospital two hours after Bimal passed away.

The defense only called one witness who testified via Skype. Mrugresh Patel testified on behalf of his sister. He told the jury that their family didn't grow up rich and they are working middle class. He also told the court his sister had never been in any kind of trouble. He did not get into much of her past.

During closing arguments the state asked for justice and the defense asked the jury to be fair. Regardless of her sentence, Patel will be deported after this process is over.

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