HAMILTON, Ohio (WCPO) — Testimony resumed Monday in the quadruple murder trial of 40-year-old Gurpreet Singh.
Last week, during day two of testimony, Singh’s defense team challenged evidence collected by West Chester, Ohio police during their investigation of the deaths of four people in Singh’s apartment in 2019.
Prosecutors accuse Singh of killing his wife Shalinderjit Kaur, her parents Hakiakat Singh Pannag, Parmjit Kaur and Parmjit’s sister Amarjit. Gurpreet Singh could get the death penalty if convicted.
During the second day of trial testimony, prosecutors put West Chester Police Sergeant Eric Couch on the stand. He documented and processed the crime scene. Couch explained how he and his team found bullet holes, bloody boots, blood and foot prints in and around Singh’s home.
Investigators found shell casings around all four bodies in four rooms. They also photographed a pair of bloody boots left behind as well as bullet holes in the apartment’s front wall. Couch showed jurors how two bullets fired from inside the unit ripped through drywall and siding then landed in a neighbor’s outer wall across a breezeway between apartments. Couch pulled slugs out drywall and insulation.
His team did not dust for fingerprints, though. Couch told jurors the powder used can contaminate genetic evidence and the texture of some of the surfaces involved can provide poor quality prints.
“Why didn’t you dust for fingerprints at the scene?” Josh Muennich, Butler County assistant prosecutor asked.
“Because of the nature of this crime,” Couch said.
The officer added that collection usually involves gathering DNA or fingerprints and “from my experience, either DNA is there or it’s not.”
Singh’s defense team attacked what they called holes in evidence collection, specifically buccal swabs taken to find DNA at the scene.
Of the 34 swabs Couch took, Singh’s defense said 32 — including samples taken from the front door, security chain and handle to the bedroom where authorities found Hakiakat shot six times in the head — were never tested.
“Because (the swabs) weren’t tested, we don’t know if there was DNA on there, is that correct?” Neal Schuett, one of Singh’s lawyers, asked.
“If they were tested I do not know if there was DNA on them, sir,” Couch said.
Former West Chester police patrol officer John Marconi was the second witness called. Marconi testified that he responded to Singh’s 911 call the night of the murders. On the orders of a superior, Marconi said he detained Singh in handcuffs because officers did not know his relationship to the crime.
Prosecutors showed the jury Marconi’s body cam video from the incident. Singh had blood on his jeans, hands and socks.
This story was originally published Oct.10, 2022 by WCPO in Cincinnati, an E.W. Scripps Company.