Schuett said the team of Charles H. and Charles M. Rittgers is asking for $50,000 to $60,000 from the state to hire expert witnesses throughout the trial set to begin in 2022. He said the firm isn’t asking for “a blank check.”
He noted that the average cost of a death penalty case in the U.S. is between $500,000 to $2 million. Howard said from his experiences the cost is much lower in Butler County.
Assistant Butler County Prosecutor Josh Muennich said Singh has paid his defense team $250,000. He compared the firm to a Ferrari and now it wants the state to pay for gas.
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.
In a motion filed in July, the defense team requested a hearing to determine if Singh qualifies as an indigent defendant, which would qualify him for public money, if approved by the judge, for a defense.
“Due to my unemployment status, I do not have the financial means to pay for any mitigation investigation, fact investigation, expert witnesses, evaluations of other trial or mitigation phase related services or witnesses,” Singh said in the affidavit. “Additionally, I no longer have financial savings to pay for said evaluations.”
Schuett said the request for public funds does not pertain to attorney fees, but for investigation and experts only.
According to the prosecution’s response, prior to his arrest Singh was employed as an owner-operator of a semi-tractor trailer, typically valued at $75,000 and $175,000, that he had at least one bank account with a balance of $75,052.31 and owned real estate in Indianapolis valued at $330.180.
In July 2018, Singh gifted a woman $20,000 to assist her in purchasing a house in Indianapolis, according to the prosecution.
“In his motion, the defendant does not explain what happened to any of these considerable assets, nor does he make any averments about his current financial status beyond being incarcerated,” Assistant Prosecutor Jon Marshall said in the motion.
Gurpreet Singh, charged with killing four relatives two years ago in Butler County, appeared Friday in Butler County Common Pleas Court for a hearing. He wants to be declared indigent so the state pays for his expert witnesses. NICK GRAHAM/STAFF
Gurpreet Singh appears in court with interpreter