Wednesday, August 10, 2022

Tentative hearing to review evidence in professors death

July 30, 2001

At 9 a.m. Tuesday, a woman charged with murdering her husband, an MSU professor, might have a preliminary hearing.

The hearing is scheduled to determine if there is enough evidence for 28-year-old Jonaki Ray to go to trial in the death of Dinesh Balagangadhar, 29, an assistant professor of mechanical engineering, but Ray’s attorney is hoping to postpone it.

DeWitt police Chief Douglas Rogers said Ray has not given a reason for the stabbing, which took place at the couple’s DeWitt home July 1.

Balagangadhar died of a single stab wound to the upper chest area, which penetrated the heart and lungs.

Rogers said Ray claims she was preparing a meal and accidentally stabbed her husband when either she turned into him or he turned into her.

She has been held at the Clinton County Jail since her arrest.

Ray’s attorney, Frank Reynolds, said he is meeting with Clinton County Prosecuting Attorney Charles Sherman today and hopes to postpone the preliminary trial.

“There (are) some very important pieces of lab work that are not back yet,” he said Sunday.

The lab reports, Reynolds said, are important pieces of evidence needed before the hearing.

DeWitt police Detective Scott Ciupak is handling the investigation and would not comment on the specifics of his investigation.

He did say there were some concerns about Ray’s status in the United States. He said it was feared she might flee the country and go back to her native India before she could stand trial. Ray and Balagangadhar were both in the United States on work permits, Ciupak said.

Sherman said there is a strong case against Ray.

“I am anticipating to convince the district court to bind her over,” he said.

Many who knew the couple were shocked and saddened by the events.

Manish Sharma, a teaching assistant for the Department of Mechanical Engineering, said he worked with Balagangadhar as a researcher.

Sharma said he was with Balagangadhar the night before his death.

“The night before we were at another place together and everything seemed all right,” he said. “The only problem was he was supposed to be at the party at 9 p.m. and he didn’t come until 11 p.m.”

Farhang Pourboghrat, an assistant professor of mechanical engineering, said he had met Ray three or four times before at parties.

“She seemed like a person that was pleasant to talk to, a little reserved,” he said. “She just recently changed her job, she said she was happy.”

Ray, Pourboghrat said, holds a master’s degree in computer science and worked in the field. They had only been married a year before Balagangadhar’s death.

Pourboghrat, who worked closely with Balagangadhar, said he was well-liked by his students.

“Nobody expected it, it was horrible. You wouldn’t expect anything to happen to such a nice guy,” he said.

Mechanical engineering senior Scott Pouls said he saw no sign of any problems at home for Balagangadhar.

“He was very open, if there were, he didn’t show it,” he said. “He was always happy.”

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