By Jaanvi Kaur and Katherine Coviello
ALAMEDA, CA – Maria Moore and Marvel Salvant, alleged conspirators in a murder-for-hire plot, faced a jury Monday here in Alameda County Superior Court for their roles in a scheme that would have resulted in an $800,000 payout from two life insurance claims, if successful.
According to the investigation done by the Fremont Police, Moore had hired Salvant months prior as a hitman in order to collect money from insurance claims and other assets from her partner at the time, Dominic Sarkar.
In April of 2016, according to the prosecution, Sarkar had purchased a life insurance policy of $500,000 with Moore listed as the beneficiary and his two daughters as contingent beneficiaries.
The jury learned that by August of 2017, Sarkar purchased another life insurance policy, this time for $300,000. His daughters were listed as the primary beneficiaries; however, it was later modified to list Moore as the sole beneficiary. Then, on Oct. 8, 2018, at 12:30 a.m., Sarkar, an executive chef at the Passage to India Restaurant, was found shot in his Fremont bedroom.
The only wounds found were the seven shots to his head and torso.
As Deputy District Attorney Alexander Hernandez stated in his closing statement, evidence collected through security cameras allegedly showed a man circling Sarkar’s home before the murder and the same man leaving in a Subaru.
A forensic scientist testified regarding gunshot residue (GSR) collected as evidence, “A conclusion would read, therefore the finding of a characteristic particle indicates that the subject may have discharged a firearm, been in the vicinity of the discharge of a firearm, or come in contact with the surface that had GSR on it.”
There were two samples collected from the bike seen in the security footage with three characteristic particles. As the (witness stated), “characteristic particles are highly indicative.”
However, Defense Attorney Darryl Stallworth’s examination brought into question whether or not GSR particles could potentially be transferred, for instance from handcuffs or sitting in the backseat of a police car, which was affirmed as a possibility by the expert.
Police evidence of cell phone records of Salvant indicated that he was in the area of Sarkar’s home at the time of the murder. They showed that on Sept. 19, 2021, Moore had wired $500 to Salvant.
These records linked the two defendants months prior to the murder, around June of 2018, said the prosecution in its analysis for the jury
Evidence presented during the trial showed that Salvant sent a message to Moore asking to talk only minutes after the killing.
DDA Hernandez stated that investigations by the police revealed that Moore had deleted her text message history and call log with Salvant before meeting with the police the day after the murder, but, added the DDA, the two reconnected through encrypted text messaging applications.
Moore and Salvant were seen on Nov. 15 in Redwood City discussing payments, leaving Salvant disappointed with the delayed process, and noting, “I’m an evil person … I committed a cardinal sin … I already did it. So, ain’t no turning back from here,” Salvant allegedly divulged to another person, according to The East Bay Times.
In his closing statement, DDA Hernandez stated that the same bike seen in the surveillance footage was seen at a shooting range two days prior to the murder, and told the jury, “Marvel Salvant was a shooter. Maria Moore was a facilitator; They conspired to murder Sarkar for financial gain.”