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Butler County prosecutor debates issue with using public funds in quadruple murder trial

Published: Nov. 10, 2021 at 5:27 PM EST
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WEST CHESTER, Ohio (WXIX) - The trial for a man facing quadruple murder charges could cost the taxpayers

Gurpreet Singh faces four counts of aggravated murder for allegedly killing his wife, her parents, and her aunt at the Lakefront at West Chester apartment complex in April 2019.

He could face the death penalty if convicted.

The attorneys representing Singh have filed paperwork requesting money from the court to help build their defense.

Singh was declared indigent which means he no longer has the funds to pay for private defense counsel, according to court documents.

Butler County Prosecutor Michael Gmoser is urging the court to reconsider this, court documents show. He wrote in his October objection to the court that Singh’s counsel has charged fees equal to his total assets.

The defense team was retained and paid for by a family member of Singh, according to court documents. The funds needed for additional services and experts have run out, the documents read.

For the defense counsel to then request taxpayer funds for mitigation and forensic experts and private investigators on top of the $250,000 they have already charged for this case is “unacceptable,” Gmoser said.

In a case like Singh’s, the prosecutor notes that “any experienced lawyer” should know those experts would be needed.

“There are very few defendants that can privately hire attorneys in death penalty cases,” said FOX19 NOW legal expert Mark Krumbein. “I mean, it’s very rare so this is unusual that in this case, Mr. Singh can afford private attorneys.”

The defense team said in court they expect to need an additional $50,000 to $60,000 for the experts. How defense counsel came up with the numbers is unclear, the judge wrote in the ruling.

The judge said in his decision the defense needs to file a motion and schedule a hearing with the court for any funds they request.

Wednesday’s court proceedings indicate the death penalty certification is not necessary for private council.

The judge has yet to grant public funds to Singh’s defense and what is allotted to them, if anything, will be decided at a later date.

The judge said there was no fee agreement reached between Singh’s attorneys and his family.

If funds are granted to the defense, the issue becomes private attorneys deciding how to best use public funds to represent Singh in this case as opposed to a death penalty certified public defender deciding how to use the money.

The trial in the quadruple homicide case has yet to begin.

On May 26, the defense requested more time due to delays in getting things they need from Singh’s home country because of COVID-19 restrictions, according to his attorney.

The trial was delayed until Oct. 3, 2022.

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