HAMILTON, Ohio — A man accused of killing his wife and three other family members earlier this year in West Chester Township will not get back thousands of dollars in cash found by police inside his wife’s pink purse.
Gurpreet Singh, 37, who is charged with four counts of aggravated murder stemming from the April 28 incident, was in a Butler County courtroom on Wednesday afternoon for one of many scheduled pre-trial hearings. With specifications of using a firearm and killing two or more persons, Singh faces the death penalty if convicted.
He is being held in the county jail without bond, and his trial is scheduled to begin on Sept. 21, 2020.
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 on Wyndtree Drive. All died of gunshot wounds.
Last week, the defense filed a motion to have more than $10,000 that was seized from Singh returned to him.
“The seized property at issue in this motion consists of U.S. currency,” the motion says. “The State of Ohio has seized a total of $10,300 from Mr. Singh. First, law enforcement seized $8,000 in cash from Mr. Singh’s residence. Subsequently, another $2,300 was seized from Mr. Singh’s person when he was taken into custody. Both seizures were improper … and the cash should be returned.”
Charles H. Rittgers, who says his client is innocent, argues the case does not involve the sale or purchase of illegal property, such as drugs, and Singh’s possession of his currency was not illegal.
John R. Bernans, who is part of the defense team, said Wednesday that the $2,300 had been returned to Singh. The $8,000 was found in a purse belonging to Singh’s wife at his residence, so it is part of marital property and should also be returned, he said.
Butler County Assistant Prosecutor Josh Muennich argued the money could be an important part of the case. The money was seized with a search warrant after the “brutal murder of the defendant’s family,” Muennich said.
“The state finds in interesting that the defense is asking for the return of the money in essence asking that the defendant be allowed to profit from the murders he has committed,” Muennich said.
He added police also found nearly $2,000 in another bedroom on a prayer table and in a closet. The defense did not ask for that money to be returned.
“The state believed the presence of money that was undisturbed at the scene is in fact evidence of what happened at that residence where this defendant committed these offenses,” Muennich said.
Judge Greg Howard overruled the defense motion noting the money was seized with a warrant and it could be evidence.
“The court believes there could be some relevance in regards to this matter as the case develops and depending on what comes out at trial,” Howard said. “The money remained in the residence and was not taken. That very well could provide some sort of motive or reason of the commission of a criminal offense or go to the identify of the person who is involved.”
Howard also overruled the defense’s motion to exclude the media from all pre-trial hearings but ruled in favor of allowing Singh to dress in civilian clothes for all future court appearances.
Singh is the man who called 911 at about 9:40 p.m. on April 28, screaming that he found his family dead, according to police. The defense team said Singh last saw his family alive about 6 p.m. when he left to work on his truck.
The next pre-trial hearing is scheduled for Dec. 16.
The Journal-News is a media partner of WCPO 9 On Your Side.