WEST CHESTER TWP., Ohio — Butler County Common Pleas Court Judge Gregory Howard denied a request from the defense team of a man accused of shooting four family members to death in a West Chester Twp. apartment.
The team wanted Howard to grant the motion concerning defense expert witnesses and if that request should be open to the public and the prosecution. The defense argued it could not adequately address costs, investigative needs, trial and mitigation strategies and other sensitive information with the prosecution or the media watching.
Gurpreet Singh, 39, 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 with gunshot wounds.
Howard said the trial is set to begin on Oct. 3, 2022, or in 306 days, and that date is “firm.”
The judge questioned why it appears the defense team hasn’t secured any experts to testify, saying nothing is “happening in the case.”
Defense attorney Neal Schuett said the team has not “sat on their hands.”
Also on Monday, Howard set a jury excuse hearing to begin Aug, 16, 2022.
Monday’s hearing followed weeks of legal wrangling after the defense team, which was retained, requested public money to hire defense experts in the case.
A team of attorneys from Rittgers and Rittgers were retained by Singh’s family members at the time of his arrest in 2019, but it no longer has the funding to pay additional experts the defense says is needed.
Schuett told the judge the team wants $8,000 in cash found in a purse and in the apartment at the murder scene to be released to pay for expert witnesses. Assistant Prosecutor Jon Marshall said prosecutors don’t want the money released because it could be evidence.
“Better safe than sorry,” he said.
Prosecutors said that prior to his arrest, Singh was employed as an owner-operator of a semi-tractor trailer, which is typically valued at $75,000 and $175,000, and that he had at least one bank account with a balance of $75,052.31 and owned real estate in Indianapolis valued at $330,180. Prosecutors also say the defense team has been paid $250,000, according to court documents.