New murder trial in Jagtar Gill slaying underway
OTTAWA -- A new trial in one of the city’s most high-profile murder cases is now underway.
Gurpreet Ronald and Bhupinderpal Gill are again standing trial for first-degree murder in the death of Gill’s wife, Jagtar Gill.
Both entered not guilty pleas in court Monday.
Jagtar Gill was found dead in her Barrhaven home on Jan. 29, 2014. She had been stabbed in the stomach and hit with a metal weightlifting bar several times. Her wrist and throat were also slashed. It was her seventeenth wedding anniversary.
Ronald and Gill were convicted of first-degree murder in 2016 but an appeal court ruled the trial judge made a legal error when instructing the jury and ordered a new trial in 2019.
Ronald and Gill are being tried together but have separate defence teams. This trial is being heard by judge alone.
The Crown alleges Gill and Ronald, both bus drivers with OC Transpo, were having a long-standing affair.
“I anticipate you’ll hear evidence that Mr. Gill and Ms. Ronald’s determination to be together and their hatred of Jagtar tracks back to more than a year and a half before Jagtar’s death,” said assistant crown attorney Jason Neubauer in his opening statement.
Neubauer said in 2012, Gill and Ronald, hired a consultant to tell them “whether and how they could be together.”
Neubauer told court would hear that Gill had said he “hated his wife,” that “he didn’t view divorce as an option” and that “he would do anything to get rid of his wife.”
Neubauer said court can also expect to hear that Ronald also “had a mantra expressing her negative feelings for Jagtar, calling her evil, the devil.”
The Crown’s theory is that Gill and Ronald together made the decision to murder Jagtar.
“The allegation is that Mr. Gill made sure Jagtar was alone, at which point Ms. Ronald went to the Gill home, went inside and killed Jagtar,” Neubauer said. “In the aftermath of the killing both Mr. Gill and Ms. Ronald attempted to destroy and discard the blood-stained weapons used and the gloves worn during the killing.”
In the 28 days before Jagtar Gill was killed, Gill and Ronald spoke with each other more than 250 times which totalled more than 48 hours of conversation, Neubauer said.
On the day Jagtar was killed, the crown says Gill ran errands with one of his children and was in contact with Ronald during the two hours they were out, with Ronald calling Gill three more times before they met in person in a Sobey’s parking lot.
When they returned home, it was the Gill’s daughter who found her mother’s body. Police arrived at the scene in less than five minutes.
The Crown said Gill admitted to picking up two knives covered in blood that were on the floor in his home, washing the blood off them and leaving them in the kitchen sink. He had told a friend about it but didn’t tell police until the day after the killing and after the friend said he’d tell police if Gill didn’t.
The Crown also said Gill retrieved a weightlifting bar that was covered in Jagtar’s blood and hid it in the basement.
During a search of the home, police found a weightlifting bar that was covered with blood in a box of decorations.
Police seized that bar as evidence and replaced it with a replica.
The Crown said it will show evidence that when Gill was allowed back into the home, he was seen retrieving the replica weightlifting bar from the basement and that he drove to a wooded area on Cedarview Road and tossed it into the bush.
The Crown says drops of Ronald’s blood were found at the crime scene on the carpet, at the base of the kitchen sink faucet, in the upstairs hallway floor, baseboard and in the master closet and ensuite area.
Ronald’s blood, along with Jagtar’s blood, was also found on a torn piece of a blue latex glove that was found near Jagtar’s body.
While speaking with Ronald, officers noticed she had a Band-Aid on and asked what happened. She told them she “cut herself with a kitchen knife while cutting potatoes.”
While under surveillance, the crown said police observed Ronald drive from the house where Gill was temporarily staying to an NCC trail parking lot where she got out of the vehicle and walked a distance, at times outside of the view of officers who were watching her.
The Crown said and NCC employee will testify that in the spring thaw in April, he discovered a large kitchen knife and blue latex glove that was missing a finger. The knife and gloves were seized by police and the knife had traces of Jagtar’s blood on it. One of the gloves had Jagtar’s blood on it, the second had Ronald’s blood on it.
The Crown said it expects to call around 30 witnesses. The trial is expected to last 10 weeks.