(L.A.) Sitaben Patel, 63, Died at a Residence

Case Number: 2002-03449

Los Angeles County is reporting the death of a 63-year-old female that occurred at a residence.

The coroner’s office has identified the woman as Sitaben Patel.

Manner of Death: Homicide

Cause of Death: Asphyxia and Thermal Burns

RIP SITABEN PATEL (December 25, 1938 – May 4, 2002)

The coroner did not provide a demographic profile, but we’re logging this as the death of a South Asian / Desi / Indian.

The decedent was one of four killed in a Hollywood Hills housefire on Saturday, May 4, 2002.

In May 2004, a jury convicted a Studio City motel owner of murdering four members of a family in a business dispute. His name is Virendra “Victor” Govin, 37.

Killed were Gita Kumar, 42; her son, Paras Kumar, 18; her daughter, Tulsi Kumar, 16, and her mother-in-law, Sitaben Patel, 63.

In addition to murder, Victor Govin was convicted of burglary, arson and robbery. The jury also found that he committed multiple murders and that he killed for financial gain, both special allegations that make him eligible for a death sentence.

The Govin brothers and Patel’s family owned neighboring motels in the 10700 block of Ventura Boulevard in Studio City. Both families wanted to renovate and expand their businesses. Both also wanted to use the alley behind their motels for different purposes: The Govins, who own Studio Place Inn, wanted to build on the alley, and the Patels, who own Universal City Inn, wanted to use it as a driveway.

The prosecution argued that the Govins killed Gita Kumar, a co-owner and manager of the hotel, because she was blocking the Govins’ plans to use the alley.

The case rested largely on a co-defendant and key witness, Carlos Amador, 27. Amador testified that he and the brothers robbed the home and that he saw the brothers torture the family. Amador pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in a deal made with the district attorney’s office.

Amador described blindfolding and gagging the family with duct tape and watching Victor Govin strangle the victims. He said Peter Govin punched and kicked Gita Kumar.