Coronavirus concerns limit, cancel Butler County court hearings, including quadruple murder case

There was business conducted Monday in Butler County Common Pleas courtrooms, but it was far from normal due to coronavirus concerns.

Courtrooms usually packed with spectators and defendants were largely empty as attorneys and judges worked together to continue many cases by “paper” rather then calling people in open court.

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By midday came the continuation of a hearing in the high-profile case of Gurpreet Singh, who is accused of killing four members of his family in West Chester Twp. Singh’s hearing on a motion to suppress was scheduled to continue today, but it has been rescheduled until April 27.

While all seven judges have hearings daily, each has a docket day on which many cases assigned to them are called. Courtrooms are normally crowded on those days. On Monday, common pleas Judge Greg Stephens conducting business in a nearly vacant courtroom.

“I sent an email out Friday to all of our attorneys, I told them if they had people who were not incarcerated and they knew that we were not going to actually accomplish anything (such as a plea or sentencing) to tell them to stay home and we were continuing those by paper,” Stephens said in court.

Inmates were brought into the courtroom in small bunches or separately instead of the usual 1o to 15 at a time.

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Monday afternoon, Butler County Sheriff Richard Jones said his department is working with courts to release non-violent offenders from the Butler County Jail due to coronavirus concerns.

“We are reducing our jail population, releasing non-violent offenders, we are keeping misdemeanors as much as we can out of the jail. Working with the courts to get some people out of jail early,” Jones said during a Facebook Live.

Jones said the dispatchers and deputies are very busy. He urged people to call 911 sparingly and noted some reports may be taken by officers over the phone.

“Your county is very safe and secure,” he said, urging people to spend time with their families and relax.

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