HAMILTON — A string of prosecution witnesses living at the West Chester Twp. apartment complex where four people were murdered in April 2019 along with a friend of the victims testified Tuesday in the trial of Gurpreet Singh, who is charged in the killings.
Singh, 40, 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 there residence on Wyndtree Drive.
Prosecutors says Singh murdered his family by shooting them all in the head after a longtime affair and a strained relationship with his in-laws over land money from land owned in India.
The defense says 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.
Amrik Tiwana testified he had known Pannag for many years in India and in West Chester Twp. He also got to know the entire family, including Singh.
In February 2019, Tiwana said Pannag called him crying and very upset saying he was having money problems. He and others from the Sikh temple met with Pannag for an intervention to discuss the matter. Pannag was shaking and upset when they arrived.
Tiwana said Pannag told him Singh assaulted him during a dispute over money.
“He had bruises on his arms,” Tiwana said. He said he had been pushed down and beaten by Singh, according to Tiwana.
Pannag said he and Singh were at odds because Singh wanted the money from land worth about $400,000 that Pannag owned in India.
Tiwana said he knew two other men that the defense points to as alternate suspects, and they were in India at the time of the homicides.
During cross examination, the defense pointed to Pannag apparently being in the United States because of an expired green card and passport. They also brought up Pannag’s alleged drinking problem.
Tiwana agreed Pannag drank whiskey, but said the intervention was not to address his drinking. The defense also pointed to the possibility that Pannag was injured because he fell down the steps due to being intoxicated.
Miranda Weller, former resident of the Wyndtree Drive apartments, recalled what she heard on April 28, 2019. She testified she was in bed reading, her son and girlfriend were in the living room watching “Game of Thrones” when she heard loud banging at about 9:15 p.m.
Then she heard screaming.
“He kept screaming call the police, call the police. They are bleeding,” Weller testified. She looked outside and saw a person wearing long pants and a long sleeve shirt.
Coria Wheeler, also a residence of the complex, was walking on the night the night of the murders. She testified she heard about four to five bangs then a pause and more more bangs.
Wheeler said she walked to the front of the building and heard a splash in the pond. She added it didn’t sound like a fish jumping.
Police found the murder weapon when the pond was searched a day after the murders.
On Monday afternoon, Donna Brown, a neighbor of the Singh family in April 2019, said on the night of the murders she, her husband and neighbors had a birthday party for their dog, Cincinnati.
At about 9:30 p.m., Brown said she heard about 12 “hammering noises,” then a person knocking on doors yelling “help me they are bleeding.”
On Friday, West Chester Police Sgt. Eric Couch spent hours on the stand testifying about the three days he spent collecting evidence at the crime scene.
Graphic photos of the apartment depicting pools of blood and bodies of the four victims were shown to the jury. Evidence placards littered the floor, marking bullet casings and other evidence.
The apartment looked lived in with typical household items and toys. Parmjit Kaur and Amarjit Kaur lay bloody a few feet from each other in the family room. Singh’s wife, Shalinderjit, was near the kitchen area in a pool of blood. A tea container and a boiled over pot was on the stove top.
When officers arrived after Singh called 911, the fire alarm was sounding loudly because of the smoking food.
Partially under Shalinderjit’s body was a cell phone and a pair of boots splattered with human matter, near her head. Both were seized as evidence, Couch said.
Pannag was wrapped in a blanket asleep on his side in his bed, His face and head distorted by bullets. On the bedside table was a cell phone. Couch said the man’s morning alarm sounded at 6 a.m. while he was processing the scene.
Casings were found near and around all the victims. Couch identified 13, opening up each evidence bag and showing the jury. The sergeant also walked in front of the jury box displaying the boots taken from the scene.
Staff Writer Lauren Pack has been inside the courtroom reporting during testimony live. Read the latest from this case at journal-news.com.
About the Author