DR NITHIWADEE Phucharoenyos, the widow of slain Olympic marksman Jakkrit Panichpatikum, yesterday walked out of court a free woman after she was acquitted by the Court of Appeals.
However, she still had tears of sorrow as the Court overturned the First Court’s ruling and sentenced her mother, Surang Duangchinda, to life in prison. The Appeals court accepted the mother’s confession that she, and not her daughter, had orchestrated the 2013 fatal shooting of her son-in-law.
Nithiwadee, 42, broke down in tears when she heard her elderly mother’s punishment, while the 76-year-old Surang remained calm throughout the two-hour reading of the verdict at the Min Buri Court.
Later in the afternoon, however, Surang was released on Bt1-million bail.
Santi Thongsem, a 32-year-old lawyer who arranged the contract killing, had his death sentence upheld for his role in the murder. The Court of Appeals also upheld the life sentences given to Jeerasak Klinkhai, the 47-year-old gunman, and Tawatchai Phetchote, 35, who was assigned to follow Jakkrit on October 19, 2013, and inform Jeerasak of the victim’s exact location.
The Court also ordered Jeerasak, Surang, Santi and Tawatchai to pay Bt2.5 million in compensation to Jakkrit’s parents.
The verdict was a reversal of the previous court’s 2016 ruling that had given Nithiwadee and Santi death sentences and acquitted Surang despite her claim that she ordered the killing.
The Court said there was insufficient evidence to conclude that Nithiwadee had ordered her ex-husband’s killing, and that her relationship with Jakkrit, despite having separated, was apparently without rage. The court heard that the couple still visited one another, had sexual relations and Nithiwadee took her children to visit Jakkrit in prison.
The doctor had even joined the ride with Jakkrit when the hitman attacked him in 2013, adding to the Court’s belief that she knew nothing about the killing.
The court found Surang’s previous confession of having ordered the killing convincing. She was angry with Jakkrit for hurting her daughter and a grandchild and believed the man would not change his character, and hence she had him killed.
Chamnan Chadit, Nithiwadee’s lawyer, said that the court had acquitted Nithiwadee on the belief that she might have reunited with Jakkrit if he had not been killed.
Meanwhile, Boonkid Panichpati-kum, 71, who is Jakkrit’s mother, said she respected the ruling of the Appeals Court but had not expected it to come out like this.
Talking about her two grandchildren, Boonkid said the eldest lived with Surang and the other with Nithiwadee.
She had met them in July after having not seen them for about a year.
“I felt sorry for Surang as she is old and has a chronic illness. I, however, personally forgive her for everything,” she said.