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Judge ‘very irritated’ as case against West Chester quadruple homicide suspect must start over

Gurpreet Singh August 5
Posted at 10:42 AM, Dec 19, 2019
and last updated 2019-12-19 11:05:07-05

WEST CHESTER TOWNSHIP, Ohio — Butler County Common Pleas Judge Greg Howard said he was “very irritated” that the defense team for a man accused of killing his wife and three other family members earlier this year in West Chester Twp. has requested an interpreter for its client months into the case.

Howard also was upset this morning that only one member of the defense team was in court, according to the Journal-News. He said the hearing wouldn’t continue until the entire team was present. Howard then left the courtroom.

Gurpreet Singh, 37, is charged with four counts of aggravated murder stemming from the April 28 incident. With specifications of using a firearm and killing two or more persons, Singh faces the death penalty if convicted.

The judge ruled that the case against Singh must start over with an interpreter fluent in Punjabi present for all proceedings. An arraignment will be held for Singh at 9 a.m. Monday.

Howard said he wanted to prevent a “stupid technicality” from leading to a possible appeal if Singh were convicted. He also said all four defense team members must be present for all future court proceedings.

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. All died of gunshot wounds.

The native of India is being held without bond since his indictment and arrest in August.

On Monday, defense attorneys requested a “reasonable bond be set.” The prosecution objected. During a hearing earlier this week, with Singh present, Howard again denied bond, noting the seriousness of the crimes.

It was what happened after that Monday hearing that prompted the defense team of Charles H. Rittgers and Charles M. Rittgers to request the court “provide an interpreter fluent in Punjabi for Mr. Singh for all hearings from this point forward.”

An affidavit attached to the motion from attorney John R. Bernans, who is part of the defense team, said that after the hearing, Singh met with attorneys to discuss the case.

“After the meeting, Mr. Singh pulled me aside and asked if I thought that bond would be granted or when the judge would decide to grant bond so that he could get out before trial and continue working in his trucking business,” Bernans said in the affidavit.

These questions from Singh led the defense to question whether he is understanding court procedures due to a language barrier.