Defense seeks appointment of third attorney in West Chester quadruple homicide retrial
Jan. 9—HAMILTON — The defense team for a West Chester Twp. man accused of the 2019 killings of his wife and three family members is requesting appointment of a third attorney to the team in retrial of the death penalty case.
Gurpreet Singh is scheduled to be back in Butler County Common Pleas Court on Wednesday for a pre-trial hearing with court-appointed attorneys David Washington and Jeremy Evans.
In October, after a three-week trial with nearly two weeks of testimony and 14 hours of deliberation, Judge Greg Howard declared a mistrial when the jury indicated it was hung and did not believe any further deliberations would serve a useful purpose.
After the mistrial, Singh's retained attorneys from Rittgers and Rittgers law firm were permitted to withdraw from his case. Howard then appointed Washington and Evans, who have specialized training in capital cases, to represent him.
Last week, Washington filed a motion requesting a third death-certified attorney be appointed to the defense team because of the "voluminous amount of discovery."
Washington said the third attorney would be unpaid and voluntary.
"There is so much information we have to process, so if we can get another person who is certified as a death penalty attorney. I want to try to get them involved so they can help us out," Washington told the Journal-News. "And I didn't want economics to be a part of it, so they have agreed to a third attorney on this capital case without being compensated."
Howard will have to approve the motion, and the prosecution has the right to respond.
"I don't know know why there would be an objection," Washington said. "It is not going to cost the state of Ohio any additional money."
In Ohio, to be first chair in a capital case, you have to have at least two death penalty cases litigated as second chair, Washington said.
"We need more first-chair certified in Butler County. It is for the experience and the certification ...," Washington said.
The 40-year-old former truck driver is charged with four counts of aggravated murder for allegedly shooting and killing his wife Shalinderjit Kaur, 39; his in-laws, Hakikat Singh Pannag, 59, and Parmjit Kaur, 62; and his aunt-in-law, Amarjit Kaur, 58, at a West Chester Twp. apartment on April 28, 2019. He faces the death penalty if found guilty.
Prosecutors said Singh murdered his family by shooting them all in the head after a longtime affair he was having and a strained relationship with his in-laws over money from land owned in India.
The defense said Singh is innocent and the killings were part of a professional hit due to Pannag's financial woes and a dubious land contract deal in India with the "land mafia." They say three masked men broke into the apartment with baseball bats and Singh ran for his life. When he returned, everyone was dead.