Palakkad Additional Sessions Judge P.K. Haneefa, on Saturday, sentenced to death Kanakaraj, who was found guilty of the murder of Sheela of Puthur. Kanakaraj was the second accused in the case.

The judgment sentencing him to capital punishment under Section 302 (murder) of the Indian Penal Code said that he be “hanged by neck till death” as it is “one of the rarest of rare cases of cold-blooded murder of a hapless woman at her house in the presence of her aged mother who was also attacked in an attempt to kill her.”

The judge gave Kanakaraj 30 days time to go in appeal in the High Court.

In the judgment on Friday, the second accused Kanakaraj was found guilty of murder while the third accused, Manikandan, was acquitted as the prosecution failed to prove the charges against him. Kanakaraj was pronounced guilty under Section 449 (housebreak); 302 (murder); 307 (attempt to murder); 392 (robbery) and 397 (robbery after murder) of the IPC.

He was also sentenced to five years rigorous imprisonment and a fine of Rs.1,000 under Section 449. In the event of failure to pay the fine, he would have to undergo additional six months rigorous imprisonment. Under Section 307 (attempt to murder), Kanakaraj was sentenced to five years rigorous imprisonment and a fine of Rs.1,000. Failure to pay the fine would entail six months rigorous imprisonment. Under Section 392 and 397, Kanakaraj was given seven years rigorous imprisonment and a fine of Rs.1,000. The sentence will run concurrently, the judgment said.

In the final argument, on Saturday, the prosecution sought capital punishment for Kanakaraj for the heinous murder of a hapless housewife in her house in front of her aged mother who was also attacked and seriously injured.

The accused pleaded for mercy and a chance to reform.

Sheela Jayakrishnan was stabbed to death on March 23, 2010 at her house in Puthur at around 1 p.m. Sheela's mother, Karthiyayani Amma, who suffered grievous injuries in the attack, pointed out to the police the three accused, Sampath, Kanakaraj and Manikandan, in an identification parade. The police arrested the three accused on March 28, 2010, but the first accused, Sampath, died in police custody on March 29, 2010.

The custodial death of Sampath is being investigated by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).

There were 52 prosecution witnesses and seven witnesses of the accused in the murder case. 

The charge sheet in the case prepared by the Court was that the three accused went to the house of Sheela at Puthur at around 1 p.m. on March 23. The first and second accused forced entry into the house and assaulted her. Sheela's mother who came to her rescue was also attacked. They stole Rs.30,000, two bangles, a chain, and two earrings. They also removed the gold ornaments from Sheela's body. The accused decamped with the booty of Rs.1.75 lakh and went to Walayar Dam area and destroyed evidence, the judgment said.