Death penalty phase next after Singh found guilty of quadruple homicide

Brother of two victims who has traveled to Butler County court hearings says: ‘I want death.’

Credit: Nick Graham

Credit: Nick Graham

The three Butler County judges who Friday found found a West Chester man guilty in the deaths of four family members this week will begin the second phase of the case: deciding on the death penalty or another punishment.

The panel of Judges Greg Howard, Greg Stephens and Keith Spaeth found Gurpreet Singh guilty of four counts of aggravated murder with a death specification for killing his wife and three other relatives in 2019 in their West Chester Twp. apartment.

Singh could face the death penalty in the sentencing or mitigation phase of the retrial, which will begin Monday.

Credit: Nick Graham

Credit: Nick Graham

The victims’ family members, many of whom have traveled thousands of miles in the past five years to attend hearings and the first trial, wept as the lengthy verdict forms were read to announce Singh’s guilt. Afterward, they thanked prosecutors, the panel of judges and West Chester Twp. police officers who were in the courtroom for closings and the verdict.

“We are proud of you and say thank you for the justice,” said Ajaib Singh, brother of murder victims Parmjit Kaur and Amarjit Kaur. He will return to Maryland this weekend but be back Monday for the sentencing phase.

“I want death,” he said.

The judges will now consider Singh’s sentence and if to spare his life. By law, the options are 25 years to life in prison, 30 years to life, life in prison without the possibility of parole, and death.

During the penalty phase, the defense will present evidence and reasons why Singh should not receive a death sentence. Singh could take the stand to make a statement.

The verdicts were read about 2 p.m. Friday. The three-judge panel began their deliberations about 11:30 a.m. after hearing closing arguments in the morning.

Credit: Nick Graham

Credit: Nick Graham

Singh’s first trial had ended in a hung jury in October 2022.

After nine days of testimony in the second trial, the Butler County Common Pleas judges heard 90 minutes of closing arguments in the super courtroom.

The 41-year-old former truck driver was accused of shooting to death his wife Shalinderjit Kaur, 39; his in-laws, Hakikat Singh Pannag, 59, and Parmjit Kaur, 62; and his aunt-in-law, Amarjit Kaur, 58, inside their Wyntree Drive in West Chester Twp. on April 28, 2019.

“They were alive until the defendant came home,” Assistant Butler County Prosecutor Josh Muennich said during closing.

He said Singh set the stage for the murders, carrying them out in the dark of night, calling off work the day before, making sure his three young children were out of the residence and using a gun with with the serial number removed loaded with hollow point bullets.

“Then he started with the person he liked least (Hakikat), working way through (the house) shooting them all in the head,” Muennich said.

Credit: Nick Graham

Credit: Nick Graham

Prosecutors drove home Singh’s financial disputes with his father-in-law, a long standing affair with a woman in Indiana and his dwindling bank accounts after giving that mistress $20,000 to buy a house in Indianapolis and providing a car for her with insurance.

In addition to forensic evidence showing Singh had his wife’s blood on his clothes when police arrive and his hand tested positive for gunshot residue, there where his “lies,” Muennich said.

He asked if an innocent man “who watched someone butcher his family would thoroughly lie to the police?”

Singh did not tell police about his affair or financial issues or that he had witnessed the shooting, as the defense claims.

“At any point this defendant could have told the police he was present during the shootings, but he didn’t,” Muennich said.

According to GPS records, Singh was also in the parking lot of the apartment complex 29 minutes before he called 911 at about 9:40 p.m. He also lied about the telling the 911 dispatcher he had just gotten home, according to prosecutors.

“Covered in the warm blood of family he lied ant decided to say he had just gotten home,” Muennich said. ‘The defendant lied to protect himself.”

The defense pointed to the lies Singh told as the reason he is on trial, not because he is guilty.

Credit: Nick Graham

Credit: Nick Graham

Attorney Alexandra Deardorff projected on the courtroom screen “Gurpreet is Not Guilty.” during closing arguments. Also show were happy and comical photos of Singh taken from wife’s phone that showed nearly daily calls between the couple when he was on the road as evidence the couple’s relationship was not strained despite the affair.

Deardorff said Singh did lie to police and police took the investigation no further.

“Gurpreet may have been scared by something,” she said.

Deardorff said the cash and car given to the mistress were loans and couched the relationship the neither were unhappy with at the time of the murders.

Singh bought also bought a house in his mistress’ neighborhood.

“Why buy a house, if you planned to move in with your mistress?” Deardorff said.

The defense pointed to a man with a criminal record who was in a land dispute with Hakikat as the person responsible for the slayings. They also noted not blood spatter on his hand and arms after such a blood scene and a witness who said he had seen a man in a hoodie running toward the woods after hearing gunshots on the night of the murders.

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