Hemant K. Megnath thought that by killing Hollis resident Natasha Ramen, he would escape jail time for raping her, the Queens district attorney said.
But by killing the 20-year-old Guyanese immigrant in cold blood three years ago, he now could spend the rest of his life incarcerated. Megnath was convicted of a first-degree murder charge last Thursday night following a month-long trial that took almost two years to get off the ground.
Ramen was set to appear as a witness in a Brooklyn Supreme Court trial against Megnath, also a Guyanese immigrant who allegedly raped her, according to Queens DA Richard Brown.
“This is a terribly sad and tragic case,” he said in a statement. “The defendant allegedly raped this helpless young woman, then cowardly slit her throat because she was prepared to testify against him at trial.”
Megnath, 32, was free on bail and awaiting trial when he killed the woman on the morning of March 15, 2007. Ramen, who had a restraining order issued against her alleged rapist, was coming out of her home when Megnath came from behind her, slit her throat and left her to die, the DA said.
A blood-stained receipt with the words “call 911” was found near the woman’s body, according to Brown.
Megnath was arrested a few days later and charged in her death. His criminal trial was stalled for nearly more than two years due to the use of a new type of crime scene investigative technique.
The police used a process called “Low Copy Number” DNA analysis to connect Megnath to Ramen’s death. The analysis involves using a smaller portion of DNA evidence at higher microscopic magnifications.
Investigators discovered DNA evidence in the defendant’s car and after using LCN techniques were able to use the evidence against him. Megnath’s lawyers fought the use of the evidence in pre-trial hearings, but in February Queens Supreme Court Justice Robert J. Hanophy found it was admissible.
Hanophy scheduled a sentencing date for April 26, according to the DA. Brown urged the judge not to be lenient on his punishment.
“In trading her life for what he thought would be his freedom, he must now be sentenced to the maximum of life in prison without the possibility of parole,” he said.
Megnath is still awaiting trial for the rape case, according to a spokesman from the Brooklyn DA’s office.
Reach reporter Ivan Pereira by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 718-260-4546.
©2010 Community News Group
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