Quadruple homicide trial’s jury selection underway in new Butler County super courtroom

Gurpreet Singh is accused of killing wife and 3 family members in 2019 in West Chester Twp.

HAMILTON — Jury selection began Monday morning in Butler County Common Pleas Court in the trial of Gurpreet Singh, who is accused of shooting and killing four family members in 2019 in West Chester Twp.

Selection wrapped up just before 2 p.m. Monday and will resume Tuesday morning.

Singh, 40, is charged with four counts of aggravated murder for the April 28, 2019 homicides. With specifications of using a firearm and killing two or more persons, Singh faces the death penalty if convicted.

He 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 residence on Wyndtree Drive.

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Credit: Nick Graham

Credit: Nick Graham

Singh and his attorneys maintain his innocence, saying another person or persons are responsible for the mass family shooting.

Pre-trial motions held before the first batch of potential jurors filed into the courtroom shed some light on aspects of the prosecution’s case against Singh, including his alleged mistress, who the prosecution wants to call as a witness.

Assistant Prosecutor Willa Concannon made a case for the admission of evidence that Singh had a longtime affair with a woman for years leading up to the day of the murder and was in contact with the woman on the day of the fatal shootings. She said the communications were later deleted by Singh from his phone.

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Singh gifted the woman $20,000 for the purchase of a home and also bought a house in the same neighborhood in Indiana, Concannon said during the hearing.

“This defendant’s contact with his mistress before and after the murders goes to direct evidence of his guilt,” she said.

Credit: Nick Graham

Credit: Nick Graham

While affairs are not criminal and are common places, the prosecution argues the evidence admissible for “motive and prior calculation and design.”

Defense attorney Neal Schuett argued against the alleged mistress evidence also noting affairs are common place and do not necessarily end in violence. He added because the alleged affair had been going on for years cuts to the immediate weight it had on the motive for the homicides.

Judge Greg Howard reserved final judgement , but said he is “inclined” to let the evidence in at trial.

The prosecution also argued for admission of an “increasingly hostile” relationship between Singh and his father-in-law over money from a sale of land in India.

Credit: Nick Graham

Credit: Nick Graham

Concannon said Singh “lied” to police about his relationship with his in-laws, using the word “harmonious.”

The defense argued the evidence of any financial conflict and hostility between Singh and he family members is hearsay.

The judge again reserved a final ruling on the issue.

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The trial is being conducted in the recently completed super courtroom that has seating for more spectators and an upgraded sound system.

A total of 300 potential jurors were sent questionnaires, with some being excused during earlier hearings where excuses were reviewed. On Monday, 81 of 91 potential jurors showed up.

Credit: Nick Graham

Credit: Nick Graham

The 2019 murders

Singh’s family members were all dead when West Chester Police arrived at the Wyndtree Drive after he called 911. He was outside in the stairwell covered in blood, crying that his family was bleeding.

Singh was questioned for hours by police, but released. He was indicted in August 2019 and arrested in Connecticut.

The father of three young children who was a self-employed truck driver running his own company before his arrest, Singh is being held without bond in the Butler County Jail. He is a native of India but has been a United States citizen since 2009.

Prosecutors have filed a motion for the jury to view several locations near the crime scene at 4562 Wyndtree Drive, Apt. 154 including the parking lot to the west side of the building, the breezeway on the first floor walking up to the apartment, the mulch area at the end of the breezeway facing the pond and the back porch area.

The jury view would happen after jury selection and before opening statements.

It appears the defense will present evidence of an alternative suspect during the trial and file motions to make the court compel the appearance of several witnesses who are “material to identify an alternative suspect.”

Prosecutors have filed a motion block the alternative suspect evidence or, in the alternative, hold a prior hearing.

Credit: Nick Graham

Credit: Nick Graham

In a motion, prosecutors asked the judge to exclude the defense from introducing evidence of an alternate suspect because, “the defendant has failed to proffer any such evidence much less establish the requisite nexus between any alleged alternate suspect and the charged murders.”

Hotel rooms have been booked and security arranged if the jury should require sequestration. By law, in a death penalty case, the jury must be sequestered during deliberations. If the defendant is convicted they are also required to be sequestered while deliberating a penalty recommendation following the mitigation phase.

If the defendant is convicted, the jury will consider recommendation of one of five penalties, including death, life in prison without parole, 20 years to life, 25 years to life or 30 years to life. It is up to the judge to decide whether or not to follow the jury’s recommendation and ultimately impose the sentence.

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