An Indian-American, who allegedly killed his estranged wife and a good Samaritan trying to intervene, has pleaded innocent to murder charges amid slim chances for him to be freed temporarily as a judge increased his bail amount to $ 5 million from $ 2 million.
Joseph Mathai Pallipurath, 27, who resides in California, appeared calm and emotionless when he was produced before New Jersey State Superior Court Assignment Judge Donald Vokert Jr.
He answered the judge's questions clearly as he pleaded "not guilty" to two counts of murder of his 24-year-old wife Reshma James and the man who tried to save her, one count of attempted murder of the woman's cousin who was seriously injured, one count of unlawful possession of arms and one count of possession of arms for unlawful purposes.
But, the judge agreed to the request of the prosecutor to increase Pallipurth's bail amount from $ 2 million to $ 5 million which makes his chances of being released on bail during the pendency of the case very slim.
The judge increased the bail amount after Passaic county Chief Assistant Prosecutor John Latoracca argued that the defendant was a high flight risk as he had no relations in or ties with New Jersey and had relations in California and India which he had visited six month ago.
However, defence attorney Moses V Rambarran could seek reduction in the bail amount and if he decides to do so, the court may hear Pallipurath plea in a week or so.
If convicted, Pallipurath, who had come to the United States from Kerala as a teen, could spend rest of his life in jail without the possibility of parole.
The case now goes to the grand jury and if it confirms his indictment, the trial could begin within three or four months.