Vijayanarayana Dharman appears in court for sentencing Wednesday, Oct. 11, 2023, at Snohomish County Superior Court in Everett, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)

Vijayanarayana Dharman appears in court for sentencing Wednesday, Oct. 11, 2023, at Snohomish County Superior Court in Everett, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)

Mill Creek man gets 18 years for killing wife, blaming depression

After losing his parents in India and being fired from his job, Vijayanarayana Dharman stabbed his wife to death.

MILL CREEK — A former Amazon employee from Mill Creek was sentenced to over 18 years in prison Wednesday for stabbing his wife to death, an attack he blamed on his deep depression.

Vijayanarayana Dharman, 37, had no criminal history and no previous record of aggressive behavior, according to court documents. Prosecutors charged him with first-degree murder on June 15.

On Aug. 23, Dharman pleaded guilty to a lesser charge of second-degree murder.

Both parties recommended a sentence of 18⅓ years, the high end of the range Dharman faced under state sentencing guidelines. Snohomish County Superior Court Judge Cindy Larsen accepted the recommendation.

Larsen said there wasn’t much for her to say about the matter.

“You have the option of moving on, the wife and the mother of your children (does) not,” Larsen said. “I understand depression. But there was a different way out.”

Dharman’s attorney, Jeffery Wolfenbarger, said this was one of the saddest cases he’s handled in his 10 years in criminal defense.

“My client came to this country with his family, he had dreams,” Wolfenbarger said. “A hole was being dug that there was really no way out of, and everything came to a head.”

Dharman was born in India and was the youngest of five children, according to a social worker’s report.

His father took out loans to send Dharman to private school. Dharman got a degree in engineering and began working for a large software company.

He married Nandhini Kamalakannan when he was 25 and she was 18. It was an arranged marriage between their families, a common practice in India.

The couple had their first child in 2013 and a second in 2015. Dharman’s stepmother helped with the children, but it became too much for her after the second child was born, according to court documents. Kamalakannan moved with the kids to be closer to her family, while Dharman would visit on weekends.

Dharman got a job with Amazon in 2012. He had more career opportunities if he worked for the headquarters in Seattle. He had no desire to live in the United States, but moved there in 2018 with his wife and children.

In the Seattle area, Dharman and his wife made friends with nearby Indian families. Kamalakannan enjoyed her new life so much she asked Dharman to purchase a house when something showed up in their price range.

In June 2020, Dharman’s father died and he was unable to partake in the traditional ceremonies because of pandemic travel restrictions.

“He was not able to fully grieve and get closure, and he was worried about his mother who was all alone,” social worker Jill Anderson wrote.

Dharman grew depressed and took two months off work, Anderson wrote. In May 2021, his mother died, but he was in the middle of closing the purchase of a home in Mill Creek. Once again, he was unable to travel to India.

The couple had invested almost all of their savings into home loans and remodeling. Financially, he felt stuck.

In December 2021, Dharman visited India. He went to a place for people to honor the deaths of loved ones if they were unable to participate in initial mourning ceremonies. It filled him with a “tremendous sense of guilt,” Anderson wrote.

Dharman became so depressed he stopped working altogether. He would open his laptop and just sit there, staring at the screen, according to court records. His supervisors tried to reach out to him multiple times, even calling police to conduct a welfare check. Dharman was eventually fired.

According to a police report, he racked up $50,000 in credit card debt. In late May, Dharman tried using his credit card to order DoorDash, but it was declined. It triggered a discussion with Kamalakannan, detectives wrote.

Now that his wife knew about their financial woes, Dharman didn’t know what to do, the report said. He thought about killing himself, but worried how his wife would support herself.

For about six months, Dharman had kept a hatchet and knives under his bed as an “escape,” according to his statement in the charges.

“The only solution he could see was to take her life to spare her the humiliation she would face, before taking his own life,” the social worker wrote. “Obviously, this is not a rational solution, but his judgement was so clouded by depression that he saw no other options.”

On May 24, Kamalakannan called close family friends for advice and comfort, the charges say. She found out that evening Dharman no longer worked at Amazon.

Their friends came over to talk about helping them return to India. The defendant stayed in his bedroom the entire time.

After the friends left, court records say, Kamalakannan came into the bedroom and kissed him on the cheek and told him they’d take care of everything, that they’d return to India and start a new life.

The next morning, Dharman’s wife woke him up around 7 a.m., then left to take their kids to the bus stop for school. She came back and tried to console him.

When she got back, she noticed Dharman trying to hide something. In a police interview, Dharman said he was not sure at this point if he wanted to hurt himself or her. He reported he “lost his mind” and felt that someone else was controlling his body.

He stabbed her 15 times.

Dharman tried to kill himself but could not go through with it, according to court documents. He called police, confessing to the killing.

Snohomish County deputy prosecutor Derek Keenan said in court the swift resolution in the case could provide some closure for Kamalakannan’s family in India.

In court Wednesday, Dharman declined to speak.

Jonathan Tall: 425-339-3486; jonathan.tall@heraldnet.com; Twitter: @snocojon.

Need help?

If you or someone you know needs a safe place to talk because of domestic abuse, you can call Domestic Violence Services of Snohomish County at 425-25-ABUSE (425-252-2873). The line is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Call takers are there to help, not to tell you what to do.

You can also reach out to the Providence Intervention Center for Assault and Abuse: 425-252-4800.

If you are worried about being heard on the phone, you can text 911.

Talk to us

> Give us your news tips.

> Send us a letter to the editor.

> More Herald contact information.

More in Local News

A big decision for Boeing’s next CEO: Is it time for a new plane?

As Boeing faces increased competition from Airbus, the company is expected to appoint a new CEO by the end of the year.

A Mukilteo Speedway sign hangs at an intersection along the road in Mukilteo. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Mukilteo Speedway name change is off to a bumpy start

The city’s initial crack at renaming the main drag got over 1,500 responses. Most want to keep the name.

Two workers walk past a train following a press event at the Lynnwood City Center Link Station on Friday, June 7, 2024, in Lynnwood, Washington. (Ryan Berry / The Herald)
Trains up and running on Lynnwood Link — but no passengers quite yet

Officials held an event at the Lynnwood station announcing the start of “pre-revenue” service. Passengers still have to wait till August.

Nedra Vranish, left, and Karen Thordarson, right browse colorful glass flowers at Fuse4U during Sorticulture on Friday, June 7, 2024, in Everett, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
A promenade through Everett’s popular Sorticulture garden festival

Check out a gallery of the festival’s first day.

Left to right, Everett Pride board members Ashley Turner, Bryce Laake, and Kevin Daniels pose for a photo at South Fork Bakery in Everett, Washington on Sunday, May 26, 2024. (Annie Barker / The Herald)
Second Everett Pride aims for even bigger rainbow of festivities

Organizers estimated about 3,000 people attended the first block party in Everett. This year, they’re aiming for 10,000.

Dave Calhoun speaks during a 2017 interview in New York. (Christopher Goodney/Bloomberg)
Lawmakers to confront Boeing CEO on mounting quality and safety issues

Before the Tuesday hearing, a congressional subcommittee accused Boeing of mismanaging parts and cutting quality inspections.

School board members listen to public comment during a Marysville School Board meeting on Monday, June 3, 2024 in Marysville, Washington. Rinehardt is seated third from left. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Marysville school board president resigns amid turmoil

Wade Rinehardt’s resignation, announced at Monday’s school board meeting, continues a string of tumultuous news in the district.

The I-5, Highway 529 and the BNSF railroad bridges cross over Union Slough as the main roadways for north and southbound traffic between Everett and Marysville. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Highway 529 squeeze starts now between Everett, Marysville

Following a full closure for a night, starting late Sunday, Highway 529 will slim down to two lanes for months near the Snohomish River Bridge.

A BNSF train crosses Grove St/72nd St, NE in Marysville, Washington on March 17, 2022. Marysville recently got funding for design work for an overcrossing at the intersection. (Kevin Clark / The Herald)
BNSF owes nearly $400M to Washington tribe, judge rules

A federal judge ruled last year that the railroad trespassed as it sent trains carrying crude oil through the Swinomish Reservation.

Everett Housing Authority is asking for city approval for its proposed development of 16 acres of land currently occupied by the vacant Baker Heights public housing development on Tuesday, Oct. 18, 2022, in Everett, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Everett inches closer to Park District affordable housing plan

Building heights — originally proposed at 15 stories tall — could be locked in with council approval in July.

Mountlake Terrace maintenance crew Ty Burns begins demolishing “the bunkers” on Monday, June 10, 2024 in Mountlake Terrace, Washington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)
Eyesore no more: After decades, Mountlake Terrace bunkers bite the dust

The bunkers held a storehouse of history, much of it moldy, outdated and unwanted.

The intersection of Larch Way, Logan Road and Locust Way on Wednesday, March 27, 2024 in Alderwood Manor, Washington. (Annie Barker / The Herald)
Roundabout project to shut down major Bothell intersection for months

The $4.5 million project will rebuild the four-way stop at Larch and Locust ways. The detour will stretch for miles.

Support local journalism

If you value local news, make a gift now to support the trusted journalism you get in The Daily Herald. Donations processed in this system are not tax deductible.