BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) — Jagjit Singh gunned down his daughter-in-law for showing independence by working a job and considering leaving her husband, an attorney said.
“This murder occurred because (she) was breaking with the lifestyle (Singh) so deeply wanted her to live,” prosecutor Kara Thompson told jurors during her opening statement Thursday in Singh’s trial.
Defense lawyer David A. Torres, however, asked the jury to return not guilty verdicts for murder and instead find his client guilty of voluntary manslaughter, arguing Sumandeep Kaur Kooner provoked and disrespected Singh and disparaged his deeply-held beliefs as a lifetime practitioner of the Sikh religion.
Singh, 67, has pleaded not guilty to first-degree murder.
Torres said experts will testify to the grave insults Kooner lobbed at her father-in-law, and how he reacted in the heat of the moment.
Singh had overheard a phone call in which Kooner talked about leaving her husband. He begged her to stay with the family and she responded with verbal abuse, Torres said.
On Aug. 26, 2019, first responders were called to a report of a medical emergency at a house on Monache Meadows Drive in southwest Bakersfield and found Kooner’s body on a couch. She had been shot three times.
Kooner was first shot in the back of the neck, Thompson said. Singh then walked around the sofa and shot her twice more at “extremely close range,” both rounds entering her neck, the prosecutor said.
When first responders arrived, Singh told them, “I shoot,” Thompson said. A loaded revolver was found on the dining room table with three spent casings inside.
Kooner’s blood was on the revolver and Singh’s clothing, Thompson said. The gun was registered to him.
Singh told police he either had to kill himself or Kooner due to her “dishonoring of him,” according to court documents.
Singh, his wife, Kooner, her husband and their children lived at the Monache Meadows home.
The trial resumes Monday.