Convicted family killer gets 4 death sentences from Butler County judges

Gurpreet Singh’s formal sentencing in West Chester slayings from 2019 set for next week.

Credit: Nick Graham

Credit: Nick Graham

It took more than five years after the shooting deaths of four family members in West Chester Twp., but their convicted killer, their relative, learned his fate Tuesday morning. Gurpreet Singh will be sentenced to death for each of the four murders.

Following a mitigation hearing Monday, the panel comprised of Judges Greg Howard, Keith Spaeth and Greg Stephens deliberated about two hours before returning the unanimous death sentence decision. Formal sentencing is set for May 22.

Singh showed no emotion when the death recommendations were read.

Singh was found guilty Friday by the panel on four counts of aggravated murder. The judges deliberated about two hours following a 10-day retrial before announcing the verdict.

Credit: Nick Graham

Credit: Nick Graham

The 41-year-old former truck driver shot to death his wife Shalinderjit Kaur, 39; his in-laws, Hakikat Singh Pannag, 59, and Parmjit Kaur, 62; and his aunt-in-law, Amarjit Kaur, 58, inside their Wyntree Drive in West Chester Twp. on April 28, 2019.

By law, the options for the judges were 25 years to life in prison, 30 years to life, life in prison without the possibility of parole, or a death sentence.

Defense attorneys Alexandra Deardorff and Mark Wieczorek left the courtroom without comment.

When the guilty verdict was announced Friday, the victims’ family members, many of whom have traveled thousands of miles in the past five years to attend hearings and the first trial, wept as the lengthy verdict forms were read to announce Singh’s guilt. Afterward, they thanked prosecutors, the panel of judges and West Chester Twp. police officers who were in the courtroom for closings and the verdict.

After the sentence decision, Ajaib Singh said he agreed with the four death sentences.

“I know it is symbolic, but it is right,” he said.

Butler County Prosecutor Michael Gmoser said any comments made by defense attorneys that this defendant is somehow innocent, “well that train has left the station.”

“I want to thank them (victim’s families) for their endurance of the staff and investigators for sticking with this case and coopering with at every instance throughout. It has been a tremendous, emotional upheaval for them from the very beginning and they had the faith and confidence in my staff, " Gmoser said. “My staff did a magnificent job.”

He said, “The judges followed the evidence, they followed the law and they did their job.”

Singh’s first trial ended in a hung jury in Oct. 2022.

The last person to receive the death penalty in Butler County was in 2010 when Calvin McKelton was sentenced to death for the execution-style shooting of a witness who saw him strangle his girlfriend, Fairfield attorney Margaret “Missy” Allen.

Howard, then a defense attorney, represented McKelton.

Credit: Nick Graham

Credit: Nick Graham

Singh listened Monday as his parents via streaming from India told a panel of judges about his life as a boy and a young man in India. Their comments came in the mitigation phase of his trial.

Singh’s parents, Karam Singh and Duljit Kaur, both nearly 70 years old, testified their son was smart and was a outgoing friendly boy.

Karam Singh said his son and Shalinderjit lived with them for a while after they married, and he never saw any violence from Gurpreet toward his wife.

As a boy, Gurpreet worked on the family farm, and studied hard to learn English, Karam Singh said.

Duljit Kaur said Gurpreet was never a problem as a child and loves his sister “very much.”

“He liked to study, work and had good behavior,” Duljit Kaur said through an interpreter.

Wieczorek pointed to Gurpreet Singh’s lack of criminal past, and noted being a hard worker until the time of his incarceration. The attorney said Singh loved his family, followed the Sikh faith and has been a model prisoner while at the Butler County Jail — all reasons to impose a life option, the lawyer said.

Wieczorek noted a mitigation specialist’s opinion that Gurpreet Singh “does not present with significant risk factors to reoffend.”

Sheriff’s Office Correction Officer Roger Mcilvaine testified Singh was “always cool and calm.”

He always held his head high, was well spoken and “even stuck up for other inmates,” Mcilvaine said.

Prosecutors drove home Singh’s financial disputes with his father-in-law, a long standing affair with a woman in Indiana and his dwindling bank accounts after giving that mistress $20,000 to buy a house in Indianapolis and providing a car for her with insurance.

In addition to forensic evidence showing Singh had his wife’s blood on his clothes when police arrive and his hand tested positive for gunshot residue, there were his “lies,” Muennich said.

He asked if an innocent man “who watched someone butcher his family would thoroughly lie to the police?”

Singh did not tell police about his affair or financial issues or that he had witnessed the shooting, as the defense claims.

“At any point this defendant could have told the police he was present during the shootings, but he didn’t,” Muennich said.

According to GPS records, Singh was also in the parking lot of the apartment complex 29 minutes before he called 911 at about 9:40 p.m. He also lied about the telling the 911 dispatcher he had just gotten home, according to prosecutors.

“Covered in the warm blood of family he lied and decided to say he had just gotten home,” Muennich said. “The defendant lied to protect himself.”

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