The trial for a man accused of killing four family members in a West Chester Twp. apartment in 2019 had his trial delayed by another year on Wednesday.
Last month, a request to continue the October 2021 trial for Gurpreet Singh was denied by Butler County Common Pleas Judge Greg Howard, but increased COVID-19 concerns in the defendant’s native county of India caused Howard to move the trial by another year to Oct. 3, 2022.
Singh, 38, is charged with four counts of aggravated murder for the April 28, 2019, homicides. With specifications of using a firearm and killing two or more persons, Singh faces the death penalty if convicted.
The defense team requested a continuance, citing travel restrictions and communication issues that are taking a toll on their ability to adequately represent him.
Singh is accused of killing his wife, Shalinderjit Kaur, 39; his in-laws, Hakikat Singh Pannag, 59, and Parmjit Kaur, 62; and his aunt by marriage, Amarjit Kaur, 58, at their residence on Wyndtree Drive. All died of gunshot wounds.
The defense team said in a written motion that a continuance is “the only way to ensure a constitutional mitigation phase if the case continues after the innocence phase.” They requested the trial be rescheduled to “give Mr. Singh the adequate time required to protect his life.”
In January, Howard raised questions about how realistic the existing May trial date was due to the COVID-19 pandemic and rescheduled it to Oct. 18.
“I wanted to stay on track with the trial date, but I have been inundated with the news reports that I have read and seen in the media of the increasing numbers of the pandemic in (India),” Howard said.
The defense has been prohibited from traveling to India or having witnesses travel to the United States, he said.
“At issue in this case is Mr. Singh’s entire life, upbringing, mental health history and personal records - most of which are in India and take a substantial time to obtain,” wrote Singh attorney Attorney Neal Schuett.
Singh as been in the United States since 2004 and has been a citizen since 2009. He was a self-employed truck driver running his own business, according to court records.
Howard said he wanted to choose a new date far enough in the future to assure it would actually take place.