By The Nation
The tears were for Nithiwadee’s 76-year-old mother Surang Duangchinda whose death sentence was commuted to life in prison after confessing that she, rather than her daughter, had orchestrated the 2013 fatal shooting of Jakkrit.
Nithiwadee “Mor Nim” Phucharoenyos
The 42-year-old Nithiwadee broke into tears when she heard the punishment given her elderly mother, while the old lady remained calm throughout the two-hour verdict reading at the Min Buri Court.
Santi Thongsem, a 32-year-old lawyer who helped arrange the killing contract, had his death sentence upheld for his role in the murder conspiracy. The Appeal Court also upheld the life sentences given to Jeerasak Klinkhai, the 47-year-old gunman, and Tawatchai Phetchote, 35, who followed Jakkrit on October 19, 2013 to inform Jeerasak of the victim’s exact location.
The Appeal Court verdict also ordered Jeerasak, Surang, Santi and Thawatchai to pay a Bt2.5 million compensation to Jakkrit’s parents who had lost their son and the support he could have provided. The verdict was a flip from the previous court’s 2016 ruling that had given both Nithiwadee and Santi death sentences and had acquitted Surang despite her claim that she ordered the killing.
Nithiwadee “Mor Nim” Phucharoenyos abd Jakkrit Panichpatikum
The Appeal Court concluded there was insufficient evidence to conclude that Nithiwadee ordered her ex-husband’s killing, and that her relationship with Jakkrit despite being 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 at a prison.
The court found Surang’s previous confession of having ordered the killing convincing. She reportedly was angry with Jakkrit for hurting her daughter and a grandchild and believed the man wouldn’t change his character, and hence had had him killed.
Chamnan Chadit, Nithiwadee’s lawyer who would later submit Bt1 million-worth of assets to apply for Surang’s bail release pending the Supreme Court battle, later commented that the court had acquitted Nithiwadee on the belief that she might have reunited with Jakkrit if he had not been killed. The court also believed that if Nithiwadee had hired someone to kill him, she wouldn’t have been in the car with him that day, he said.