A criminal case currently being heard in the Indian state of Rajasthan tells us that judges consider it feasible that a person can be convicted for murder on the basis that they placed a venomous snake next to the victim they intended to kill. If the snake bites and kill the victim, the perpetrator can be convicted for murder subject to the requisite evidence that they placed the snake next to the victim. It seemed that the judges have accepted that causation can be established.
In the case in question, Krishna Kumar is on trial as one of three defendants accused of murdering Subodh Devi in 2019. Kumar and the victim’s daughter-in-law went to a snake-charmer and bought a snake. When Devi was asleep it is alleged that they placed a bag with a snake in it near her bed. The snake bit her and she died. Snakebite deaths are common in Rajasthan. The judges rejected the argument that there couldn’t be causation and stated: “This is a new trend that people bring poisonous snakes and kill a person through snakebite. This is now becoming common in Rajasthan.”
Kumar’s lawyer asked how it could be was possible for an accused murderer to be found guilty when they were nowhere near the murder and there was no murder weapon. The defence lawyer also said that his client could not be part of a conspiracy because no one can predict whom a snake will bite. The judges rejected his arguments.
It is said that there is a disturbing new trend in the state Rajasthan: murder by snakebite.
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