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Emotions Overflow after Gulty Verdict: Heated exchange between families at Stockton murder trial

Discussion in 'Hard Talk' started by spnadmin, Apr 11, 2010.

  1. spnadmin

    spnadmin United States
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    1947-2014 (Archived)
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    Jun 17, 2004
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    I am not posting this article in order to cover sensational news stories. Nor do I think murder committed within the Sikh community is any more or any less serious than anywhere else. I am not posting this article to critique the American jurisprudence system, or life-sentences for homicide versus the death penalty. Nor am I posting this article to try the case here again.

    I am posting this article because it is the story of a bitter tragedy that has changed the lives of two families irrevocably. The story did not take place in India but in California. The story also contains within it all the themes of false honor, false ego and false ideas of respectability, uncontrolled emotions, pride and lust, caste and social status, and more. All themes related to honor killing that have occupied our attention many times in many threads, even today.

    A jury found a Gurprakash Khalsa guilty of homicide. I do not know if he is guilty or not. I do not know if the news article has captured each and every fact of the case that needs to be known. All I know is that this is a story about something that did not have to happen. The victim of the homicide died violently. But when you read on you will realize how more than one life was ended abruptly and cruelly.

    A sobering tale. Something to keep in mind. The journey ahead is still long.

    Emotions overflow after guilty verdict

    Heated exchange between families at Stockton murder trial

    STOCKTON - An exchange of screams erupted in court Friday after jurors found Gurparkash Khalsa guilty of ambushing and gunning down a 23-year-old trucker inside a parked big rig three years ago.

    The verdicts will put the 58-year-old Khalsa, a prominent member of the local Sikh community and owner of a French Camp trucking firm, in state prison for the rest of his natural life.

    After hearing his fate, Khalsa quietly turned to his family, pointing upward in what his attorney, Daniel Horowitz, later explained as indicating God's providence.
    Hearing the verdict read, the defendant's 20-year-old daughter, Minninder Khalsa, at first sobbed. That elevated to screams hurled across the courtroom at murder victim Ajmer Hothi's mother and sister.

    "We'll take you to the Supreme Court," she shouted as bailiffs rushed up to take her out of the Stockton courthouse.

    Hothi's mother returned shouts in Punjabi.

    Kiranjot Khalsa, the defendant's daughter at the center of the trial for her relationship with Hothi, collapsed sobbing in the hallway outside the courtroom door. She has previously been identified as Kiranjot Pannu.

    Horowitz later said that Gurparkash Khalsa's family is deeply saddened by Hothi's death, and they now feel like the slain man's family is taking it out on them. Hothi's family has filed a $15 million lawsuit against Khalsa, who owns Pacific Coast Intermodal.

    "Regardless of what they think about Mr. Khalsa, this has nothing to do with his family," said Horowitz, who added his disappointment to the verdict. He felt it was possible for the jurors to find his client not guilty.

    In a long trial that began in early March, Horowitz attacked detectives for targeting Khalsa, yet failing to perform an exhaustive investigation. He didn't feel investigators accurately determined Hothi's time of death.

    In the end, it took jurors a little more than a day of deliberation to find him guilty on all counts.

    They found him guilty of first-degree murder while lying in wait and personally discharging a handgun. The verdict carries a mandatory sentence of life in prison without the possibility of parole.

    According to the prosecution, the case stemmed from a forbidden romance between Hothi and Khalsa's daughter. Khalsa at first forbade the romance because he wanted his daughter to marry someone of higher social standing.

    Khalsa then learned that his daughter had aborted Hothi's baby. Khalsa insisted that the two get married because this news had spread throughout the San Joaquin County Sikh community, shaming his family, according to the prosecution.

    But Hothi's family in the meantime had taken their son to India and married him off to another woman. Upon Hothi's return, he continued his relationship with Khalsa's daughter, according to trial testimony.

    Khalsa grew increasingly frustrated, which the prosecution said led him on March 27, 2007, to Hothi's big rig parked in east Stockton, where he opened fire.

    In court, the San Joaquin County Deputy District Attorney Robert Himelblau pinpointed Khalsa as the gunman with the help of grainy surveillance video, cell phone records and witness testimony.

    "The videos, the testimony and cell tower evidence was obviously very convincing to them," said Himelblau, who praised the jury while noting that the case was emotionally draining for them as well as the families. Three teared up as the verdict was read.

    San Joaquin County Superior Court Judge Charlotte Orcutt, who oversaw the trial, ordered Khalsa back on May 24 for sentencing.
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