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 request the trial be rescheduled to “give Mr. Singh the adequate time required to protect his life.”
In January, Butler County Common Pleas Judge Greg Howard raised questions about how realistic the existing May trial date was due to the COVID-19 pandemic and rescheduled it to Oct. 18.
Attorney Neal Schuett said in the motion the COVID-19 pandemic slowed the process in March 2020, and a year later, there are still health restrictions related to COVID-19.
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,” Schuett wrote.
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.
On Wednesday, after about a 35-minute meeting with attorneys in chambers, Howard announced he was going to deny the continuance and set a pre-trial hearing for May 26.
“I have discussed with counsel a procedure by which counsel can get information forth regarding anything they need with the court’s assistance regarding this matter.” Howard said. “I know there have been difficulties ... hopefully by May 26 we will have further clarification on what needs to be done.”