Apr. 8—At a hearing last month for a West Chester Twp. man charged with killing four members of his family in 2019, defense attorneys said travel restrictions and communication issues are taking a toll on their ability to adequately represent him.
They are now requesting a continuance of Gurpreet Singh's trial scheduled to begin in October.
Singh, 38, 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.
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 residence on Wyndtree Drive. All died of gunshot wounds.
The defense team said in the motion that a continuance is "the only way to ensure a constitutional mitigation phase if the case continues after the innocence phase." They request the trial be rescheduled to "give Mr. Singh the adequate time required to protect his life."
In January, Butler County Common Pleas Judge Greg Howard raised questions about how realistic the existing May trial date was due to the continued pandemic and rescheduled it to Oct. 18.
Attorney Neal Schuett said in the motion the COVID-19 pandemic slowed the process in March 2020, and a year later, "we are dealing with the health restrictions related to COVID-19."
The defense has been prohibited from travelling to India or having witnesses travel to the United States, he said.
"At issue in this case is Mr. Singh's entire life, upbringing, mental health history and personal records — most of which are in India and take s substantial time to obtain," Schuett wrote.
Singh as been in the United States since 2004 and has been a citizen since 2009. He was a self-employed truck driver running his own business, according to court records.
"The majority of Mr. Singh's life has occurred in the Punjab region of India. Therefore, a substantial amount of information, documentation and witnesses are all a world away. Mr. Singh's life in India did not take place in a metropolitan-like area where records and information are a phone call away. Investigating Mr. Singh's entire history when his life is at stake requires in-person interviews and having people on the ground to conduct and investigation. Over the last year, this has been impossible," Schuett said.
Singh will be back in court for a pre-trial hearing on Wednesday.