Lover’s slayer says Hindu goddess ordered it
A Queens man who claimed the Hindu goddess Kali drove him to murder his live-in lover was sentenced yesterday to 20 years in prison for the killing.
At the sentencing, Krisna Soogrim presented a petition to the judge asking to be allowed to keep his long ponytail for religious reasons while he is incarcerated.
"This sounds like something from somebody with the law firm of ‘Inmate, Inmate & Inmate,’" Queens Supreme Court Justice Robert Hanophy said of the ponytail petition, which was written for Soogrim by a fellow detainee.
Soogrim, 38, slit the throat of his girlfriend, Juliet Velaidam, 34, in their basement apartment in Hollis on Feb. 7, 2002, after a heated argument, prosecutors said.
He then went to a nearby bar and stayed for about six hours before returning home and calling 911 to say he had killed Velaidam and that he had explosives on him.
Cops eventually subdued him in his apartment, but not before he hit one in the helmet with a meat cleaver.
Soogrim, a construction worker from Guyana with a history of mental illness, faced 25 years to life for murder. He had blamed Kali, known as the goddess of destruction, before finally admitting he killed Velaidam and pleading guilty to manslaughter as part of a plea deal this month.
The victim’s family "is satisfied with the plea. Obviously, they are still grieving," Assistant District Attorney Debra Pomodore told Hanophy.
"This is a sad and tragic situation," defense lawyer David Bart said. "Even the victim’s family realizes that this happened … because Mr. Soogrim suffers from a serious illness."
Soogrim declined to comment at the brief hearing but handed up his petition citing the Hindu religious practice of not cutting hair. Hanophy referred him to the Correction Department.
Originally published on April 26, 2006