File photo.
File photo.

A man convicted of orchestrating his wife’s 1991 murder in their San Dimas home was sentenced Friday to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

Shanker Chhaganbahi Patel, 57, was found guilty Jan. 24 of first-degree murder in the Nov. 19, 1991, stabbing death of his wife, Usha Patel, who was on her way to pick up her 7-year-old daughter from school when she was attacked in the garage of the couple’s home, according to Deputy District Attorney John Monaghan.

Jurors also found true the special circumstance allegation of murder while lying in wait.

The 29-year-old law school student was fatally stabbed in the chest and neck, and her mouth and nose were duct-taped and her feet were bound, according to the District Attorney’s Office.

Her body was dumped in the trunk of her car and driven to a nearby middle school, where the vehicle was left abandoned.

A Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputy saw the vehicle and discovered the woman’s body inside, the prosecutor said.

A renewed investigation into the cold case in 2010 revealed DNA inside gloves discovered in the front passenger seat of the victim’s car.

That DNA was linked to Miguel Angel Garcia, 66, who subsequently pleaded no contest to first-degree murder and was sentenced in May 2013 to 25 years to life in state prison.

Investigators determined that Patel paid a middleman $7,500 to organize his wife’s murder, then told the co-conspirator when and where to be in the family’s home to kill her, Monaghan said.

The middleman provided the details to Garcia, who then carried out the killing, according to the prosecutor.

Patel was having an affair before his wife was killed, and his wife was planning to leave him after she passed the California Bar Exam, according to testimony presented at the trial.

Patel was charged in 2013 with his wife’s murder, apprehended in Atlanta and brought back to California to stand trial. He has remained in jail since his March 2013 arrest.

— City News Service

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