BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) — Two cases involving the deaths of children — one who authorities say was intentionally drowned, the other assaulted — were confirmed for trial on Wednesday.
The trials for both Kaleb Kessinger and Beant Dhillon were set for Aug. 3, but, since both defendants are represented by the same attorney, the Kessinger trial will be held first while the Dhillon trial will be pushed back. Defense lawyer David A. Torres appeared in court with the defendants for the brief proceedings before Judge Judith K. Dulcich.
Each trial is expected to last about a month.
Kessinger, 22, and his former girlfriend, Ayled Chavez, were arrested in April 2018 on suspicion of killing Chavez’s son and dumping his body in the Kern River Canyon. They later returned to the scene to bury the body of Ramon Angel Reyes-Chavez, court documents said.
Chavez was sentenced to two years in prison after pleading no contest to willful cruelty to a child in exchange for the dismissal of charges of murder and assault on a child under 8 resulting in death. She’s expected to testify at Kessinger’s trial.
Kessinger also faces charges from a separate incident in which he’s alleged to have stolen $1,200 from his grandfather and stashed guns for the benefit of the West Side Crips gang.
Dhillon, 44, is alleged to have drowned her daughter’s baby on Nov. 18, 2018. She told investigators she hadn’t known her daughter was pregnant until she gave birth that day. She said she placed the newborn boy face down in several inches of water in a bath tub until he stopped moving, court documents said.
A motive for the killing was to avoid the shame her daughter’s pregnancy would have brought to the family in the Sikh community, according to the documents. The baby was buried in the backyard by Dhillon and 23-year-old Bakhshinderpal Singh Mann, her nephew, according to police testimony and the documents.
Dhillon and her husband, Jagsir Singh, told their daughter, who passed out in the bathroom and didn’t see what happened to her child, that the baby had been taken for adoption, according to the documents. The daughter eventually told police her father had threatened to kill her, and an investigation led to the discovery of the buried body.
A week after his arrest in March 2019, Singh, 48, hanged himself at the family’s house on Shining Crag Avenue in southwest Bakersfield. He had posted bond and had been released from custody on charges of accessory to murder and willful cruelty to a child.
Mann, who was in the country illegally, removed a GPS monitoring device the day after police dug up the body. He remains at large.