Philadelphia Sikh pleads guilty to third-degree murder of wife


Philadelphia — An Upper Darby man accused of strangling his wife in an alleged suicide pact pleaded guilty last week to a single charge of third-degree murder, a felony of the first degree.

According to an affidavit of probable cause, Gurinder Singh, 53, and Jaswinder Kaur, 47, of the first block of Winfield Avenue, were found fully clothed in their bed on the afternoon of Feb. 22 by their son, who had received voicemails form his father to come home. The husband and wife had scarves tied tightly around their necks, which the son untied before calling 911, according to the affidavit.

Jaswinder Kaur was pronounced dead at the scene and Singh was transported to Delaware County Memorial Hospital for treatment.

Assistant District Attorney Sam Yim indicated at a preliminary hearing that he would be prosecuting Singh for first and third degree murder based on bruises found on the dead woman, which pointed to signs of a struggle.
His son testified for the prosecution in district court, Ranapartnap Singh recalled receiving several voicemails from his father that day and spoke to his father numerous times trying to find out what had happened.

“Some were from dad’s phone and some from the house phone,” Ranapartnap Singh said. “I called him back and said, ‘Dad, what happened?’ He was struggling with his breath. He said to please come home and hung up. I called back and said, just tell me. I said, let me talk to mom and he said she’s in another room.”

Ranapartnap remembered having to move a vacuum cleaner blocking the front door to access the house.

“I went into the bedroom and both were lying on the bed,” Ranapartnap said. “They both had scarves on their neck. Tight.”

The adult son untied the scarf from his dad’s neck before tending to his mother.

Letters found at the house and subsequent police investigations revealed the couple was not having financial problems but they were distraught because one of their children, a daughter in her 20s, had run off with a Pakistani man against their wishes.
As Judge James Nilon explained to Singh during the Dec. 4 hearing, Yim would have to show that Singh had killed his wife with malice to prevail on the third degree murder charge to which he was pleading.

Singh, a soft-spoken man, said he understood and wished to continue with his plea. Under the agreement worked out by Yim and Scott Kramer, sentencing will not go outside the standard range of 90 to 240 months. Both sides are expected to present evidence at that hearing, scheduled for Jan.