Police charge American teenager with murder over mother's death at Indian tourist resort

JAIPUR, India (AP) — Police formally charged an American teenager Monday with murder after his mother was found dead at a resort in the western Indian state of Rajasthan, police and the teenager's attorney said.

Police officer Lakha Ram filed charges of murder and destruction of evidence against Joncarlo Patton, 16, in a juvenile court in Jodhpur, a tourist hub in Rajasthan.

Patton was picked up by police at an airport in Jodhpur on Aug. 13, a day after his mother, Cindy Iannarelli of Cecil, Pennsylvania, was found with her throat slit at a resort in the nearby town of Osian.

He was arrested after questioning and is being held in a juvenile detention facility, said Manish Vyas, Patton's attorney.

The charges filed Monday accuse Patton of attacking his mother with a sharp knife on Aug. 12 and then dumping her body on a sand dune near the resort, Vyas said.

The 200-page document says Patton washed his bloodstained clothes and changed into fresh clothes before leaving for the airport in a taxi, Vyas said. Patton's clothes were later discovered by police, but no knife has been found.

Vyas said the court would study the charges before deciding whether Patton would be tried under India's more lenient juvenile laws.

Soon after his arrest, Patton, in a written statement given to Judge Ishwar Lal Verma on Monday, insisted that he was innocent and rejected police claims that he had confessed to killing his mother after an argument. Patton said police were pressuring him to falsely confess.

Police superintendent Girdhari Lal Sharma, who questioned Patton soon after his mother's death, said the teenager attacked his mother because he was traumatized by his parents' divorce and wanted them to reconcile.

It was not immediately clear how long the case would take to move through India's notoriously slow judicial system.