Quadruple homicide trial: Was Gurpreet Singh a witness or the killer?

The West Chester capital case is being presented to a 3-judge panel weighing the evidence.

The defense and prosecution agree Gurpreet Singh was present when four of his family members were shot and killed in their West Chester Twp. apartment, but the prosecutors say he was the killer and the defense says he was a witness.

On Monday, Singh’s capital murder retrial began in Butler County in the 2019 slayings. The 41-year-old former truck driver’s first trial ended with a hung jury in October 2022. But this with time a new defense team, he opted to let a three judge-panel weigh the evidence.

Credit: Nick Graham

Credit: Nick Graham

The trial in the Butler County Common Pleas Court super courtroom is scheduled to last about two weeks.

The panel, comprised of Judges Greg Howard, Keith Spaeth and Greg Stephens, heard and saw through a body camera and a 911 call the minutes after Singh called 911 on April 29, 2019, saying his family was “down.”

Dead inside the Lakefront Apartment on Wyntree Drive were Singh’s wife Shalinderjit Kaur, 39; his in-laws, Hakikat Singh Pannag, 59, and Parmjit Kaur, 62; and his aunt-in-law, Amarjit Kaur, 58.

In the 911 call, Singh is crying and out of breath saying, “wife and family down … bleeding”

The call was placed to West Chester dispatch at 9:42 p.m.

Singh says, “Please help. They are bleeding ma’am.”

The dispatcher asks, “Sir, did you do something to them?”

Singh answered, “No, I just got home.”

During opening statements, Assistant Prosecutor Jon Marshall said in addition to victims’ blood, gunshot residue and DNA found on Singh, GPS evidence can place Singh in the parking lot of the apartment complex at 9:03 p.m. That is 39 minutes before the 911 call was placed.

West Chester Police Sgt. Michael Bruce took the stand as his body camera from the homicide scene was played. Singh is in the the breezeway of the apartment complex wearing a red shirt with blood visible.

Bruce asked Singh, “Do you know who may have done this?

Singh is on camera shaking his head no.

Defense attorney Alexandra Deardorff said during opening statements Singh was the suspect because he lied to police and they looked no further.

She said he was present when his family was killed, but he did not do it, according to the defense attorney.

“He is here because he lied. In reality he was there and witnessed the brutality,” Deardorff said,. “He probably should not have lied to the police; it does not make him a killer.”

Deardorff alluded to an ongoing land dispute Hakikat had with men in India with criminal backgrounds concerning the payments on land under development as the reason for the killings.

Forensic pathologist Dr. Karen Looman testified Monday about the injuries all for victims sustained and showed photos of autopsies she performed.

All four victims were shot in the head, some multiple times.

Deardorff said Singh also lied to police about having a long-term affair, but he had just “witnessed the most horrific event of his life.”

Credit: Nick Graham

Credit: Nick Graham

Marshall said Singh chose the time and place for the shootings where he knew his family would be the most vulnerable, shooting Hakikat as he slept, his wife as she prepared tea in the kitchen and the others at they watched television.

Prosecutors pointed to the affair and money disputes with his father-in-law as motives for the murders, saying Singh needed money.

At the time of the homicides, Singh was having an affair with a woman in Indianapolis whom he gave $20,000 cash to purchase a house, bought a car and paid a mortgage, Marshall said, pointing to motive.

Additionally, there was a strained relationship between Singh and his father-in-law with evidence of hostile demands by Singh to Hakikat for money, according to prosecutors.

Credit: Nick Graham

Credit: Nick Graham

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