Man charged in West Chester quadruple homicide in court today: What we know

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

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Gurpreet Singh appears in court with interpreter

Credit: DaytonDailyNews

A man accused of killing his wife and three other members of his family last year in West Chester Twp. is back in court today for a motions hearing.

Gurpreet Singh, 37, is charged with four counts of aggravated murder stemming from the April 28, 2019 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.

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The defense team and prosecutors are expected to spend the day on largely procedural motions in Butler County Common Pleas Judge Greg Howard’s courtroom. Many of the motions, involving procedure and courtroom decorum, were ruled on before, but after the defense questioned if Singh understood English late last year, Howard ordered the case to begin again with an interpreter to assist Singh.

Singh is being held in the Butler County Jail without bond, and his trial is scheduled to begin on Sept. 21.

One piece expected to be argued at length is the defense’s motion to suppress Singh’s statements and evidence.

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In November, defense attorneys Charles H. and Charles M. Rittgers and Neal Schuett argued Singh’s constitutional rights were violated during a five-hour interrogation by West Chester police, so they want evidence gathered during interrogation suppressed.

Singh called 911 upon finding his family members seriously injured in their home and was handcuffed at the scene, his attorneys say. Singh was then taken to the police station and interrogated for five yours.

“During those five hours, Mr. Singh repeatedly asked to speak with his children, his family members and to a lawyer,” a defense motion says. “It was not until after two hours of interrogation that Mr. Singh was read his Miranda rights. At that point, Mr. Singh refused to make any further statements and unequivocally ascertained his right to counsel. However, Mr. Singh was prevented from leaving the interrogation room, and he was told on multiple occasions that he was ‘detained’ and that he was ‘not free to leave.’”.

Attorneys say police coerced Singh to continue to speak to them by denying access to his children and responding with statements like “we do not want to traumatize them more” and “I don’t want to cloud your mind.”

Prosecutors say Singh’s rights were not violated and the defense fails to identify any particular statements they are seeking to suppress.

When West Chester Police arrived at the Wyndtree Drive apartment, they found blood on Singh, according to the prosecution’s response.

“ The defendant was wearing clothing that was splattered and smeared with blood,” prosecutors Jon Marshall and Josh Muennich wrote in the response.

Singh was handcuffed for officer safety for approximately 10 minutes then placed in the back of the cruiser while officers tried to gather information, according to prosecutors.

When Singh was taken to the police station he was placed in an interview room. He was not in handcuffs and was given water and allowed to make phone calls while detectives asked him to furnish information about possible suspects.

“Initially, the defendant did not request to speak to a lawyer. Likewise, he did not express any hesitation in speaking with police, though he was not forthcoming with many details of what happened that night,” the prosecutors said.

Singh told police he wanted to go home and he did not want to consent to gunshot residue testing. Due to the change of behavior, detectives read Singh his Miranda rights. He refused to sign the Miranda card.

“Because the defendant would not consent to the swabbing of his hands, police detained the defendant while they obtained a search warrant for the swabs,” the prosecutors said.

Marshall and Muennich the recorded interviews show Singh was not in custody and was ultimately released.

“The defendant was treated as a witness to this crime. Detectives read the defendant his rights only when the police believed the defendant was not merely a witness,” the prosecutors said.

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