Will there be a retrial in the West Chester quadruple homicide case?

First trial for Gurpreet Singh ended with hung jury after 3 weeks.

HAMILTON — Butler County Prosecutor Michael Gmoser will attend the Nov. 1 hearing to set a new trial path for Gurpreet Singh, a man accused of a quadruple homicide in 2019.

The prosecutor likely will have a lot to say about retrying the death penalty case and who will preside over the second trial.

On Friday, after a three-week trial with nearly two weeks of testimony and 14 hours of deliberation, Butler County Common Pleas 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.

Immediately after the jury was dismissed, Howard scheduled a pre-trial hearing with the attorneys and prosecutors said there will be a second trial.

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.

In statements to the media, including Journal-News media partner WCPO, on Friday, Gmoser said “there will be a request by me upon the judge to recuse himself from the next trial, and upon that refusal I will seek a recusal from the Supreme Court by the filing of an affidavit that he is not qualified based upon his decision in that case.”

On Monday, Gmoser was less outspoken, stating “I will be attending the pre-trial and I intend to make a statement at that time. I will be making my statements in court.”

Two jurors and the defense team indicated there was one juror who could not be convinced for conviction.

“There cannot be anything more extreme than 11-1,” Gmoser said, noting the prosecution considers the split in the deliberation when considering retrial.

Defense attorney Charlie Rittgers said Monday the defense team will be at the November hearing but it is up in the air if they will be the defense team for a second trial. Singh has been in jail for more than three years and is indigent at this point. If family members do not have the money to retain the Rittgers team, by law, a court-appointed attorney, certified to defend death penalty cases, will be appointed.

Deliberations apparently turned hostile with one juror sending a note to the judge saying she “didn’t feel safe.” Another juror sent a note saying “I can no longer in due diligence be on this jury. One juror is not following our instructions or rules.”

Howard questioned all 12 jurors about the issues individually and sent them to a second night of sequestration Thursday.

On Friday, Day 15 of the trial, the prosecution and defense argued the issue, with the defense pointing out at least one of the jurors should not be removed just because she has a dissenting view of the evidence from the other 11.

The prosecution called for the removal of two jurors because of misconduct, saying it was making it impossible to deliberate. Howard declined to dismiss the jurors Friday morning, saying that through his questioning of all 12 jurors he determined they all have been able to deliberate and there was no juror misconduct. He did say there had been conflict but it did not stop all from considering the evidence.

Singh is still in custody and under indictment. He has been without bond in the Butler County Jail since his arrest in August 2019.

During arguments of the juror issue, Rittgers said juror 83 is actually the victim in a deadlocked jury and she was the one reading the “fine print” in the jury instructions properly.

Rittgers said when questioning the other jurors about the issue, they said most of the disagreement is based on the evidence. He said the juror should not be dismissed because the root is reasonable.

Assistant Prosecutor Josh Muennich said it was a matter of juror 111 creating an environment that impeded the deliberation process.

“This is not about people disagreeing over the evidence, this about juror misconduct,” Muennich said. He asked the jury not be held hostage by two jurors who are unwilling to perform their duties.

He added, “This is not a matter of juror 83 being a victim.”

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.

Singh is still in custody and under indictment. He has been without bond in the Butler County Jail since his arrest in August 2019.

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