In a significant development in the Kevin P Joseph murder case in Kerala, forensic experts from Thiruvananthapuram have deposed before the Kottayam additional district sessions court that Kevin was forcibly drowned to death.
“This is a clear case of homicidal drowning. The victim - Kevin - was conscious during the time of his death and seems to have struggled while he was drowning. This is what Dr K Sashikala,a professor from Department of Forensic Medicine in Thiruvananthapuram Medical College, deposed before the court. She also told the court that water in the Chaliyekkara stream was only till his knees and he could not have drowned in it,” Special Prosecutor CS Ajayan told TNM.
Kevin, a 23-year old Dalit Christian man, was found dead in the Chaliyekkara stream in Kollam in May 2018. A team of forensic experts had visited the site of occurrence as part of the investigations.
“The water at the time of his death was waist deep at 4 feet. No healthy person can drown in this level of water. Otherwise he had to be unconscious. But forensic experts have found that he was conscious during the time of death,” Ajayan told TNM.
According to the Special Prosecutor, it was discovered that water level in Kevin’s lungs was exceptionally high. This he says, is an indicator that Kevin was conscious and struggled to breath while being forced into the water.
“If he were unconscious, he would not have had so much water in his lungs. The water content shows that he had struggled to breathe. This is what the forensic experts have maintained,” Ajayan added.
The Kevin murder case is one of the most high profile cases in the state right now. In May 2018, Kevin and his girlfriend Neenu had decided to get married despite her family’s opposition as he was a Dalit and belonged to a poor family. Neenu and Kevin submitted an application to get their marriage registered. In the following days, Kevin was abducted from his house in Kottayam and his body was found lying in the stream in Kollam the next morning.
Fourteen persons, including Neenu’s father Chacko and brother Shanu Chacko have been named accused in the case. Prime accused Shanu, is said to have masterminded Kevin’s abduction. The accused persons have, on several occasions, resorted to threats and violence to turn witnesses hostile. In the latest incident, Rajesh, one of the witnesses in the case, was beaten up by some of the accused persons and their friends as he refused to change his statements before the court. Rajesh filed a police complaint on the attack and the accused persons have been arrested by the Kollam police.