A man accused of killing his wife and three other family members earlier this year in West Chester Twp. will continue to be held in the Butler County Jail without bond until trial.
Gurpreet Singh, 37, is charged with four counts of aggravated murder stemming from the April 28 incident. With specifications of using a firearm and killing two or more persons, Singh faces the death penalty if convicted.
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Singh is accused of killing his wife, Shalinderjit Kaur, 39; his in-laws, Hakikat Singh Pannag, 59, and Parmjit Kaur, 62; and his aunt by marriage, Amarjit Kaur, 58, at their apartment. All died of gunshot wounds.
On Dec. 9, the defense team filed a new motion asking for “reasonable bond” to be set for Singh.
The defense motion states Singh is the father of three children, ages 5, 7, and 11, and was married for 17 years. He as been in the United States since 2004 years and a citizen since 2009. Singh has no criminal background and is a self-employed truck driver running his own business, the motion said.
“Despite the fact that he has been the focus of the police investigation, he had made no attempt to flee and continued to support and protect his three children,” the defense wrote in its motion.
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Defense attorneys noted that when arrested, Singh was at an uncle’s home attending a family wedding with his children.
“Mr. Singh has close ties to the community and has lived in West Chester for the past seven years. From the time his family members were killed to the present, Mr. Singh has been very concerned about his three minor children who are now without both their parents, due to his incarceration,” defense attorney Charles H. Rittgers wrote in the motion.
But prosecutors opposed any bond in the case, stating in a motion filed Monday that Singh was “found to have gunshot particle residue on his hands hours after the murder.”
“The defendant has a few connections left alive in the area. Notably, the defendant has significant contacts in other states, such as Indiana, where he purchased a new home … before the murders and family in Connecticut. He came to the country from India where he still has family, friends and business interests. While the police did seize his passport pursuant to a search warrant, a passport is only needed to enter this country, not to leave the United States,” Asst. Prosecutor Jon Marshall wrote in the motion opposing bond.
Judge Greg Howard noted that Singh did not make an attempt to flee and continued to support his children after the homicides, but “Mr. Singh is charged with four counts of aggravated murder, which carries the death penalty. The court believes the bond set at arraignment was the appropriate bond set.”
Singh was dressed in a suit for the hearing to address the bond motion and draw a three-judge panel. In Ohio, those facing the death penalty have the option of a jury trial or trial in front of a three-judge panel. The judge panel is identified before the defendant chooses whether to pursue a jury trial or the panel.
This administrative function usually takes place early in the litigation process, because judges’ schedules fill up fast and the defense and defendant will know the makeup of the panel well in advance.
The panel to preside over Singh’s trial, if he chooses, will be Howard, Judge Keith Spaeth and Judge Charles Pater.
But that will not happen. After the hearing, defense attorney Charles M. Rittgers said “this is a jury trial.”
A pre-trial hearing was sent for Jan. 20. Singh’s trial is scheduled to begin Sept. 21.
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