Defense team points to ‘Land Mafia of India’ member as mastermind in quadruple murder

Defense team points to 'Land Mafia of India' member as mastermind in quadruple murder
Published: Oct. 10, 2022 at 5:58 PM EDT
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WEST CHESTER, Ohio (WXIX) - The defense team for a man on trial in a West Chester quadruple murder argued Monday that the mastermind in the killings is a member of the “Land Mafia of India.”

Gurpreet Singh, 40, is accused of killing his wife, Shalinderjit Kaur, 39; his mother-in-law, Parmjit Kaur, 62; his father-in-law, Hakiakat Singh Pannag, 59, and his wife’s aunt, Amarjit Kaur, 58, at the Lakefront at West Chester apartment complex on Wyndtree Drive on April 28, 2019.

His defense said in court Monday that the person who is actually responsible for the four deaths is Kuldeep Singh Sekhon.

They claim Sekhon is a member of the “Land Mafia of India” and brought his name up when Sgt. Travis Oakes was on the stand.

Defense: “You are aware that his business partner is Shabazz Nagler, correct?”

Oakes: “I did hear that, yes.”

Defense: “You were aware that Shabazz and Kuldeep Singh Sekhon were known as part of the land mob in India, correct?”

Oakes: “I did hear that, yes.”

Defense: “You are aware that Hakiakat, one of the deceased, had to deal with them back in 2011, correct?”

Oakes: “I know there was a land dispute. I don’t know the specifics of it. We got conflicting information on it.”

Monday was not the first time the “Land Mafia of India” has been brought up in court. During opening statements, the defense argued the killings were related to a property dispute in India.

“They’re known to take land by what the relative says is the cook and crook method, they’re known as ‘Land Mafia of India,’” the defense stated during opening statements.

Back to Monday’s session, Gurpreet’s defense team also used footage from a police body camera the night of the shooting that shows him appearing to panic as he allegedly tried to find his kids.

Prosecutors claim Singh arrived at his Wyndtree Drive apartment at 9:09 p.m. and waited around 30 minutes to call police and report the shooting.

Detective Kevin Burger was on the scene the night of the shooting and monitored the area while BCI checked the pond behind Singh’s home, where they found a key piece of evidence.

Detectives say the Ruger was the gun used in the shooting.

When they searched the apartment, detectives said they found more than $10,000 in cash.

last week, the prosecution questioned West Chester Police Sgt. Eric Couch, who was at the scene.

Prosecutors asked Couch questions about the locations and authenticity of the crime scene evidence.

Couch stated that a detective and the coroner’s office collected 16 shell casings.

While the prosecution focused on where the evidence was found, the defense asked him to confirm where the evidence was not found.

Sgt. Couch stated that he did not find any damage to the doorway, indicating a forced entry.

Defense: When you were tracking these foot or boot prints in the apartment, you did not notice any that went from the living room the patio door that’s in the living room, correct?

Sgt. Couch: Correct

When asked from the prosecution and the defense about fingerprints, Sgt. Couch stated that he could not dust for fingerprints because it would have affected the investigators’ ability to collect DNA from the scene.

The defense stated that investigators collected 34 swabs from the scene but only tested two.

Sgt. Couch: Sir, I have no idea. It was tested by BCI.

Friday’s testimony ended with West Chester Officer John Marconi’s body camera footage showing Singh’s being placed in handcuffs.

Barbara Wilson, Public Information and Engagement Director for West Chester Township, says that on the night of the killings, West Chester police questioned Singh as a witness but did not take him into custody and was not placed under arrest.

Singh called 911 around 10 p.m. that night and told a dispatcher he came home and found four relatives on the ground, bleeding from the head.

Singh was arrested in Connecticut less than three months later, in July, and indicted the following month.

His trial has been delayed multiple times so that Singh, who speaks English and Punjabi, could get an interpreter in court and also due to the COVID-19 pandemic, according to court records.

The trial is expected to take two to three weeks.

If convicted, Singh could face the death penalty.

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