BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) — The jury in the trial of a woman accused of drowning her daughter’s newborn son was told to disregard testimony where the daughter said she once believed that her cousin, the child’s father, was responsible for the baby’s death.
Judge Kenneth C. Twisselman II sustained an objection from the prosecution and said the testimony was speculative. He ordered the jury to disregard that portion of the daughter’s statement as she testified for a second day in the trial of her mother, Beant Dhillon.
Dhillon, 44, is charged with murder, assault on a child under 8 resulting in death and willful cruelty to a child. She faces life in prison if convicted.
The daughter testified she felt faint and kept going in and out of consciousness after giving birth in November 2018 in a bathroom of the family’s southwest Bakersfield home, where she lived with her immediate family, her grandparents and two cousins. She said she had kept her pregnancy a secret from everyone except the child’s father, Bakhshinderpal Singh Mann, her older cousin.
At the time she gave birth, she was 15 and Mann 23. Looking back, the daughter testified, she believes the relationship was inappropriate and that Mann took advantage of her.
After giving birth, the daughter was taken to another bathroom and cleaned while someone else took the baby, she testified. Mann later told her the baby had been put up for adoption, she said.
It wasn’t until three months later, she testified, that her father during an argument implied the child was buried in the backyard. That same day, she spoke with police and her parents were arrested when the baby’s body was dug up.
Mann, who was away on a trip as a long-haul trucker, remains at large.
David A. Torres, Dhillon’s defense attorney, attempted to throw suspicion on Mann in connection with the baby’s death.
Was there a time that you believed (Mann) was responsible for the death of the child,” Torres asked.
“Yes,” the daughter replied, leading to the objection from prosecutor John Allen.
On Monday, Torres asked if it wasn’t possible that Mann had taken the baby from her immediately after she gave birth. She said “yes,” but also said she had no idea who took the child.
The daughter said she had believed Mann was candid with her when he said the baby was placed for adoption. After the body was discovered, she didn’t know what to think.
Dhillon gave police several stories about what happened to the baby before admitting she drowned the child because of the shame an unwed pregnancy would bring the family in the Sikh community, according to testimony and court documents. Her husband, Jagsir Singh, 48, was charged as an accessory. He bailed out shortly afterward and hanged himself at their home on Shining Crag Avenue.
Both the daughter, now 17, and her younger brother were placed in foster care.
Called to the witness stand, the brother made similar comments as his sister in describing their home life as abusive, with their father hitting them on multiple occasions.
Describing the night his sister gave birth, the brother, who was in 8th grade at the time and is now 15, said he had no idea his sister was pregnant. He and Dhillon went to check on her in the bathroom after she had been gone for a while.
The brother said Dhillon repeatedly knocked and tried to open the door. Mann arrived and managed to unlock the door with a bobby pin.
When the door swung open, the brother said, he saw the floor covered with blood and he yelled “in a horrific way.” He became faint and tumbled down the stairs, he said. The bathroom was on the second floor of the house.
The brother said heard a baby cry once. His cousins took him to his bedroom, he said, and he stayed there the rest of his night.
The brother’s testimony differs in certain areas from what reports say he told police upon the arrest of his parents.
Significantly, he told police he saw his mother carrying a trash bag and crying as she walked downstairs after his sister gave birth, according to the reports. He said he believed the trash bag was filled with blood, the reports said.
Questioned by Allen, the brother denied ever making that statement.
The trial resumes Wednesday at 9:30 a.m.