by Joe Murphy


Summit County -- Two Pinebark Place residents arrested in connection with a 2005 homicide pleaded not guilty to three charges, including aggravated murder, in a Summit County courtroom June 20.

The pleas came a day after Chetankumar P. Patel, 33, and Minaxiben P. Patel, 50, were arrested for their alleged involvement in the 2005 murder of Sejal Patel, Chetankumar's wife and Minaxiben's daughter-in-law. Both were charged with one count each of aggravated murder, tampering with evidence and abuse of a corpse, according to a June 19 release from the Twinsburg Police Department.

Bond for both was set at $10 million cash, according to Tom McLaughlin, bailiff for Judge Brenda Burnham Unruh.

Chetankumar's attorney, Richard Mazamec, could not be reached by phone June 21.

The court entered not guilty pleas for Minaxiben on June 20, and she was scheduled to be back in court June 21 for a status hearing. Results of that hearing were not available by press time. Her attorney, Carolyn Mulligan, could not be reached for comment June 21.

Chetankumar and Minaxiben are the third and fourth suspects to be arrested in Sejal's July 2005 death.

Vijaykumar V. Patel awaits trial in Summit County Court of Common Pleas on charges of aggravated murder, tampering with evidence, abuse of a corpse and obstructing justice.

Rupal Patel, who is not related to the victim or Vijaykumar, pleaded guilty May 14 to one count of murder, a special felony. She was sentenced to life in prison, with the possibility of parole after 15 years, according to court records.

The body of Sejal, 28, was found strangled and beaten in the back of a sport utility vehicle at the DaimlerChrysler plant on East Aurora Road in July 2005. Her death was ruled a homicide " asphyxia by strangulation " by the Summit County Medical Examiner's Office.

She was reported missing by Chetankumar July 1 after she failed to show up for work at a Mr. Hero restaurant in Cleveland, police said. Chetankumar called police the next day when he found a co-worker's SUV parked at the auto plant, according to police.

Editor's note: Murphy is a reporter for the Twinsburg Bulletin.


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