An African American youth, accused of gunning down an Indian software professional while he was meditating in park, has been convicted of capital murder three years after the incident that shocked the community.
Howard Dale Bellamy (24), who robbed and killed 28-year-old Akhil Chopra almost three years ago while he was meditating in a west Houston park is bound to spend the rest of his life in prison, a Harris County jury decided on Monday.
Chopra, an active volunteer for the Hindu Students Council who had come to the US from Ahmedabad in India in 2001 to study for a master's degree, was found dead in August 2005 with a gunshot wound in his temple and his wallet was missing.
Jurors deliberated for a total of six hours before convicting Bellamy of capital murder, which meant an automatic punishment of life without parole because prosecutors did not seek a death sentence.
Prosecutors said Bellamy beat Chopra before shooting him in the temple with a .38-caliber revolver on August 10, 2005.
During closing arguments in the court of state District Judge Marc Carter, Assistant District Attorney Wendy Baker told jurors that the murder was 'just a senseless act of violence'.
"(Chopra) had pattern abrasions on his face, his ear was ripped open and his knuckles were shredded," Baker said, adding, "Akhil fought for his life."
Earlier, Bellamy told jurors that he and his girlfriend spent time with his grandmother and went to eat a pizza during the time Chopra was killed. However, his girlfriend, Domonique Alston, testified that the two were not together at that time.
Defence attorney Doug Durham told jurors that Alston could not be trusted and had lied to protect another gang member.
In his closing argument, Durham said the other member was responsible for the killing. Bellamy admitted on the witness stand that he was a member of the Crips street gang.