Trial begins in Indian-origin student’s murder in US

Washington, Aug 20 (IANS) The trial of a man suspected to have murdered an Indian-origin student in the US has begun in the Miami-Dade circuit court.

Johnathan Simon is accused of killing 15-year-old Jason Maharaj in September 2009 following an argument. He was charged with first-degree murder, attempted murder and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon, Miami Herald reported.

Prosecutors on Wednesday said that eyewitnesses identified Simon, who was found blocks away minutes after Maharaj’s murder. At the time of his arrest, he was wearing pants and carrying a blue backpack similar to the killer seen on a CCTV footage that captured the murder.

Miami-Dade Assistant State Attorney Jonathan Borst told jurors that Simon shot Maharaj, then stood over him and pumped several more bullets into him as he lay on the pavement.

“It was senseless. It was violent. And it was cruel,” he added.

Simon’s defence lawyer Scott Miller said that eyewitnesses who identified a black man with a backpack responsible for the murder were wrong. He argued there was no conclusive DNA or gun-shot residue evidence tying Simon to the scene.

The trial continues on Thursday before Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Dennis Murphy.

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