Jury selection begins in West Chester quadruple homicide case
WEST CHESTER, Ohio (WXIX) - A man accused of gunning down his wife, her parents and her aunt inside their Butler County residence more than three years ago is going on trial.
Jury selection started Monday in Butler County Common Pleas Court before Judge Greg Howard.
Gurpreet Singh, 40, is being held without bond at the Butler County Jail.
He has pleaded not guilty to four counts of aggravated murder for allegedly killing his wife, her parents, and her aunt at the Lakefront at West Chester apartment complex on Wyndtree Drive in April 2019.
He could face the death penalty if convicted.
Eight-one potential jurors showed up at the courthouse and both sides in the case are trying to get that down to about 16 people they think are a good fit for the juror box.
Twelve will sit on the jury, but Judge Howard hopes to have four alternates for this case.
The victims were all found shot to death the night of Sunday, April 28, 2019.
They are: Singh’s wife, Shalinderjit Kaur, 39; his mother-in-law, Parmjit Kaur, 62; his father-in-law, Hakiakat Singh Pannag, 59 and his wife’s aunt, Amarjit Kaur, 58.
Of the 81 potential jurors that showed up Monday, 35 remain.
A second pool of 78 jurors is due in the courtroom Tuesday to go through the same process.
The jurors are expected to be sat by end of Tuesday.
One thing noteworthy to come out of a pretrial hearing Monday was a possible motive.
While raising concerns over witnesses and admissible evidence, attorney’s touched on an alleged affair Singh may have been having and a possible dispute over the sale of a property in India.
FOX19 NOW also learned about an extensive witness list from the prosecutor’s office that has about 50 potential witnesses listed. The defense has about a dozen.
Singh called 911 around 10 p.m. on April 28, 2019, and told a dispatcher he came home and found four relatives on the ground, bleeding from the head.
He said identified the victims as his wife, mother, father and aunt.
“They’re all down.... No one’s talking. No one’s talking,” he said on the call, which was released to FOX19 NOW through a public record request. “They’re bleeding.”
West Chester police questioned Singh as a witness but he was not taken custody on the night of the slayings.
He was arrested in Connecticut a few months later, on July 2, 2019.
Singh was indicted the following month, in August 2019.
His trial has been delayed multiple times so that Singh, who speaks English and Punjabi, according to court records, could get an interpreter in court and due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Prosecutors have never said revealed the suspected motive in the killings.
His attorneys argue in court records that another person or persons killed his family.
Prosecutors are fighting to keep details about that out of court, according to a state motion, one the defense rebuts in their own legal filing.
Dozens of witnesses have been subpoenaed to testify, including West Chester and Mason police, Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation and FBI agents, United Airlines, cell phone companies and others.
Singh is being defended by attorneys funded with public money because he was declared indigent (no longer has money to pay for his own defense) and this is a death penalty case.
That means taxpayers will foot the bill for experts to assist his legal team.
On Sept, 21, the judge granted a defense motion for $6,000 for travel expenses for Singh’s father, mother and his “religious Guru” so they can come from India to the U.S. to offer testimony on his behalf “in the Sentencing Phase of the case, should that phase be necessary,” court records state.
His attorneys are listed in court records as Neil Schuett, Charles M. Rittgers and John Bernans.
Citing health reasons, Charles H. Rittgers, 71, withdrew from the trial in August.
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