Newly released photos show severity of machete attack

APEX, NC -- In a photo that Priyanka Kumari's father shared from inside her hospital room, deep cuts from the blows of Neel Mehta's machete are clearly seen across her face, head, and neck.

Her hands are both heavily bandaged and placed in foam blocks to carefully prop them up, away from the rest of her aching body.

"Every moment, praying to the gods that my daughter will come back to normal one day," said Pankaj Kumar of his 18-year-old daughter he said he didn't recognize in the wake of Thursday's brutal assault.

Priyanka Kumari was severely slashed in the machete attack.

A GoFundMe page has been set up by neighbors to help the family with medical expenses.

Her attacker, the 20-year-old Mehta, is in a local detention center charged with assault with a deadly weapon with intent to kill inflicting serious injury.

While he says he has faith in the judicial system, Kumar says Mehta should have been charged with attempted murder from the outset.

Some of the injuries to her neck. She suffered 46 cuts on her head alone.

"All the videos, the evidence, the eyewitnesses is clearly stating the fact that he had planned it, he had premeditation," Kumar said.

Capt. Blair Myhand told our sister station, ABC11, that officers presented a warrant for attempted murder after taking Mehta into custody at gunpoint Thursday, but the magistrate decided to file the lesser assault charge instead.

Chief Dexter Williams said the magistrate took out the charge they thought met the requirement of probable cause and that it was the appropriate charge.

The local District Attorney is preparing to send upgraded charges to the grand jury next week.

She said it's her office's hope that magistrates issue warrants to try to protect the public.

In this case, Mehta was booked under a $2 million cash bond, giving her office time to review all the details of the case.

Eyewitnesses in Apex's neighborhood who called 911 shortly after 3pm Thursday, said they watched for several minutes as Mehta struck Kumari repeatedly with a machete; some of them captured the attack on cell phone video.

Kumar said his daughter had just gotten off the school bus and was walking home when Mehta grabbed her, threw her to the ground and started hacking at her as she tried to use her hands to block the blade.

"(He) stomped her by his feet and jumped on her body and then started to cut her throat and cut her head off," Kumar said.

Apex police told ABC11 that detectives are poring over dash cam video, cell phone video from eyewitnesses, and home surveillance footage that one neighbor said show Mehta circling the block twice as he waited for Kumari to return from school.
While police maintain from their investigation that Mehta and Kumari had once been in a "dating relationship," her father says that isn't true.

Kumar said Mehta was obsessed with his daughter from the time they attended high school together.

He said he had her transferred at the end of 2015 to get away from Mehta, who he said was trying to force her to do drugs.

About a month before the attack, Kumar said Mehta started sending her threatening texts and messages on social media.

The I-Team uncovered a snapchat photo that friends of Mehta say he sent hours before the attack.

In the picture, he's seen holding the machete and making a kissing gesture.
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