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New Jersey couple indicted for killing Indian American Trupal Patel

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Trupal Patel
Trupal Patel

Joseph Villani, pictured, and his girlfriend have been indicted for the alleged murder of Trupal Patel.

FREEHOLD, N.J. (Diya TV) — A couple indicted by a grand jury on Monday charged with killing Indian American Trupal Patel and then dumped his body in a park.

Joseph Villani, 21, of Ocean Township, and his 20-year-old girlfriend Raquel Garajau, of Tinton Falls, were indicted on 13 counts in connection with the February killing of the 29-year-old Patel, the Monmouth County Prosecutor’s Office announced Monday night.

The prosecutor’s office in Ocean Township, as well as other law enforcement bodies, initially launched the investigation into Patel’s death, after his body was found by a park ranger who was collecting litter along Shark River Park shortly after 8:30 a.m. on Feb. 22. After authorities identified the deceased man’s body as Patel, they learned that a friend had reported him missing to the Asbury Park Police Department on Feb. 9, the same day that a car Patel was driving prior to his disappearance was discovered abandoned.

Villani became a suspect in Patel’s death after the mother of one of Villani’s friends called police to report her son may know something about the disappearance, Assistant Monmouth County Prosecutor Christopher Decker said in court on March 9.

That friend told authorities he had helped Villani move what he later learned was Patel’s 2003 Jaguar on Feb. 7 after Villani told him he needed help relocating the car because the brakes needed to be repaired, Decker said. Villani had initially told investigators he was not in Patel’s car, but then changed his account and said he stole the car and a Movado watch that was in it, according to the Ocean Township Police Department’s affidavit of probable cause filed against Villani.

Villani was alleged to have been wearing Patel’s Movado watch while he was being interviewed by investigators. That’s when he, according to detectives, told them several times “I did it” but did not elaborate, Decker said.

However, a man described as Villani’s “best friend” told investigators that before Patel went missing, Villani had expressed an interest in robbing Patel, according to the affidavit. He asked about how much marijuana and money Patel had and what type of car he drove, according to the affidavit.

Garajau told detectives that Villani never revealed to her what he had done with Patel’s body. However, the prosecutor’s office said in a release Monday that additional work by detectives “revealed evidence that Garajau conspired with Villani to commit these crimes and aided him in destroying and concealing evidence in connection with the murder and robbery of Patel.”

Villani and Garajau were each indicted on charges of first-degree murder and felony murder, first-degree robbery, second-degree disturbing or desecrating human remains, tampering with a witness, weapons offenses, and multiple counts of tampering with evidence and hindering apprehension, the prosecutor’s office said.

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BREAKING: Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg dies at 87

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BREAKING: Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg dies at 87 | Diya TV News

WASHINGTON (Diya TV) — Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has died at 87. She was the oldest sitting member of the court. Justice Ginsburg was only the second woman named to the Supreme Court. A cultural and feminist icon, Ginsburg was appointed to the Court by President Bill Clinton, and her passing will set off a showdown in the coming weeks before the November election. In a message left this week as her health waned, Ginsburg said “my most fervent wish is that I will not be replaced until a new president is installed.” But Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell shortly after Ginsburg’s death was announced said the Senate will conduct a vote to replace her and President Trump is expected to put forth a nominee to fill the seat in the coming days.

An Indian American doctor filed a federal lawsuit against the Aurora, Colorado police department after one of their police officers pointed a gun at him on his own property while he was trying to park his car. The incident was captured on video. The officer, Justin Henderson, has been suspended for 40 hours without pay and will be required to attend de-escalation training. 45 year old Dr. Paramjit Parmar, who is known in Aurora for his aid to refugees, believes race affected how he was treated and said Henderson’s punishment is “terribly inadequate.”

Ravi Kapur contributed to this report.

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Recall efforts against Kshama Sawant moves forward

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Recall efforts against Kshama Sawant moves forward | Diya TV News

SEATTLE (Diya TV) — The recall effort against Seattle City Councilwoman Kshama Sawant can move forward after a ruling by a King County judge. Superior Court Judge Jim Rogers said four of the six accusations against Sawant are legitimate. They include misuse of city resources, misuse of her position by letting protesters into City Hall, relinquishing her duties of office to an outside political organization and leading a protest to Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan’s house despite her address being protected due to threats from her time as a U.S. Attorney. 

Now, the group of residents leading the recall must get about 11,000 valid signatures before the recall gets on the ballot. Sawant in response said this battle is just the latest attempt by corporate interests and Mayor Durkan to derail her efforts to reform the city and announced she will lead a grassroots campaign to fight the charges.

Meanwhile, Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan is facing heat as well from U.S. Attorney General William Barr, who suggested prosecutors consider filing charges against her over the mass protests this summer that led some protesters to establish a police-free zone in downtown Seattle. In a tweet, former U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara offered his help to Durkan pro-bono.

Indian Prime Minister Modi turned 70 years old and received birthday wishes from around the globe, including from President Trump, who called Modi “a great leader and loyal friend.”

Ravi Kapur contributed to this report.

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Indiaspora & AAPI data survey Indian American voters

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Indiaspora & AAPI data survey Indian American voters| Diya TV News

SAN FRANCISCO (Diya TV) — At a virtual event featuring the former CEO of the Democratic National Committee, Seema Nanda, Democratic Congressman Raja Krishnamoorthi and Republican Ohio State Representative Niraj Antani, non-profit Indiaspora teamed up with AAPI Data to reveal the growing political power of the Indian American diaspora. The joint report says 66% of Indian Americans currently favor Vice President Biden, and 28% favor President Trump. The study shows an enormous rise in political engagement from the community. There are 1.8 million Indian Americans in the U.S. who are eligible voters and both sides of the aisle recognize the need to further engage Indian Americans, who AAPI Data notes is now the largest part of the Asian American community, surpassing Chinese Americans.

Eric Trump, President Trump’s son, took part in an Indian Voices for Trump event in suburban Atlanta. It was an indoor rally with appropriate social distancing measures in place. Trump was on hand to win support from the community in a vital state that will be tightly contested this fall. Georgia, like North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Florida, Michigan and Texas are considered in play and have growing Indian American populations.

Ravi Kapur contributed to this report.

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