Hearing for man accused in West Chester quadruple homicide continued; no retrial date yet

Credit: Nick Graham

Credit: Nick Graham

Gurpreet Singh’s first trial ended with hung jury after 3 weeks.

HAMILTON — A hearing for the retrial of a West Chester Twp. man accused of the 2019 killings of his wife and three family members scheduled for Wednesday has been moved to next month.

Gurpreet Singh, who faces the death penalty if convicted, was scheduled to be back in Butler County Common Pleas Court this Wednesday afternoon with court-appointed attorneys David Washington and Jeremy Evans. But the defense requested a continuance late Tuesday and it was granted by Judge Greg Howard.

Singh, who remains housed in the Butler County Jail without bond, is scheduled to be back in court Feb. 10.

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In October, after a three-week trial with nearly two weeks of testimony and 14 hours of deliberation, Judge Greg Howard declared a mistrial when the jury indicated it was hung and did not believe any further deliberations would serve a useful purpose.

After the mistrial, Singh’s retained attorneys from Rittgers and Rittgers law firm were permitted to withdraw from his case. Howard then appointed Washington and Evans, who have specialized training in capital cases, to represent him.

Last week, Washington filed a motion requesting a third death-certified attorney be appointed to the defense team because of the “voluminous amount of discovery.”

Washington said the third attorney would be unpaid and voluntary.

“There is so much information we have to process, so if we can get another person who is certified as a death penalty attorney ... I want to try to get them involved so they can help us out,” Washington told the Journal-News. “And I didn’t want economics to be a part of it, so they have agreed to a third attorney on this capital case without being compensated.”

In Ohio, to be first chair in a capital case, you have to have at least two death penalty cases litigated as second chair, Washington said.

“We need more first-chair certified in Butler County. It is for the experience and the certification ...,” Washington said.

Butler County Prosecutor Michael Gmoser has no objection agreeing more death penalty certified attorneys are needed in the county.

“I think it will be helpful to the interest of justice to have the training that will be available free of charge,” Gmoser told the Journal News. “And it should be helpful for the defense to prepare the case. It will give them another person to help carry the load. There is a tremendous volume of material.”

The 40-year-old former truck driver is charged with four counts of aggravated murder for allegedly shooting and killing his wife Shalinderjit Kaur, 39; his in-laws, Hakikat Singh Pannag, 59, and Parmjit Kaur, 62; and his aunt-in-law, Amarjit Kaur, 58, at a West Chester Twp. apartment on April 28, 2019.

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Prosecutors said Singh murdered his family by shooting them all in the head after a longtime affair he was having and a strained relationship with his in-laws over money from land owned in India.

The defense said Singh is innocent and the killings were part of a professional hit due to Pannag’s financial woes and a dubious land contract deal in India with the “land mafia.” They say three masked men broke into the apartment with baseball bats and Singh ran for his life. When he returned, everyone was dead.

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