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Hicksville man guilty in attempted murder-for-hire

A man convicted last month of fatally stabbing his mother-in-law at his twins' birthday party pleaded guilty Wednesday to asking a would-be hit man to kill a key witness in the case.

Harpal Hira, 35, of Hicksville, pleaded guilty to two counts of second-degree criminal solicitation for asking an undercover police officer - who Hira thought was a hit man - to kill his sister-in-law. The sister-in-law had witnessed the murder.

The prison sentence Hira serves for that crime, which is a maximum of 21/3 to 7 years, will run concurrently with the sentence he serves for murder and a related assault, which will be a maximum of 50 years to life.

Hira was acquitted last month of attempting to kill his wife on the same day he killed her mother, but he was convicted of assaulting her.

"With the amount of blood already on his hands, it is shocking that this defendant thought nothing of trying to end another innocent woman's life," Nassau District Attorney Kathleen Rice said.

Prosecutors said Hira fatally stabbed Meena Kohli, 54, his mother-in-law, in August 2008. Hira's wife, Ritika Hira, 25, survived to testify against him.

Hira's lawyer, Michael DerGarabedian of Rockville Centre, pointed out that Hira originally was charged with a more serious crime in the murder-for-hire - conspiracy to commit murder - but a judge dismissed that charge.

Later, a different judge ruled that a videotape taken of the conversation between Hira and the would-be hit man was of such poor quality that it could not be used in court.

"After the courts recognized how ridiculous this charge was, the only thing left was a low-level felony, which in the big picture didn't amount to anything," DerGarabedian said.

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