A Fairfax County Grand Jury will decide on Dec. 20 whether there is enough evidence to put Abir Ali on trial for the June murder of Bharat Patel on Winterthur Lane in Reston.
Patel, the 40-year-old co-owner of the Dunkin' Donuts that opened at Hunters Woods Willage Center three days before the June 9 altercation that led to Patel's death from blunt force trauma.
In a preliminary hearing in Fairfax County General District Court on Tuesday, prosecuters called two witnesses who shed light on the possible motive and method in the incident.
FCPD Det. Robert Bond recalled at the hearing finding Patel's body about 4:15 a.m. in the shrubs by the apartment complex's rental office in the 11900 block of Winterthur Lane. Patel lived with his wife on the same block.
Bond said he found blood at the scene, as well as two of Patel's teeth, which had been knocked out.
Bond also gave some details of his interview with Ali.
The detective said Ali knew Patel from when both men worked at a Dunkin' Donuts in Maryland. They became close friends, and Ali had recently helped the Patels move to their new apartment in Reston. Ali was also hired to help open the Reston Dunkin' Donuts.
Ali told police he had gone to Patel's residence to talk to the man "about how he [Patel] was treating Patel's wife." He told police he waited in his car, but he was concerned about his safety if a fight ensued, so he brought along a stun gun.
Ali confronted Patel, who did not have a weapon, and a physical altercation ensued, Bond said. When a car came by, Ali told police he ran to his car. About 10 minutes later, he drove back to where Patel was and then dragged his body into the bushes.
Ali had no injuries other than a scratch on his forehead, which he told police came from an accident with a coffee pot at work the previous day.
Patel's injuries were fatal, however. Another witness at the hearing, the Virginia assistant chief medical examiner who performed Patel's autopsy, said Patel had numerous bruises and contusions all over his body, but Patel died from blunt force trauma to the head.
Patel had at least five impact sites on his head, she said, though she could not pinpoint which injury killed him or whether a particular weapon was used. He also had seven marks consistent with stun gun use.
Judge Michael Cassidy said the evidence was sufficent to go to the grand jury. The grand jury will then decide whether the case should advance.