Sept. 27, 2010 Updated Dec. 2, 2011
Gurparkash Singh Khalsa
The author’s account of her role as jury foreperson at a 2010 murder trial in Stockton, California.
by Joan Bannan
Ajmer Singh Hothi, a 23-year-old trucker from Jalandhar, India was shot and killed in the cab of his parked big rig in Stockton, California on March 27, 2007. The weapon that killed him was a 9mm handgun that discharged nine bullets into the cab – six of those into Ajmer’s body. The one that entered his heart killed him instantly. He had been in the United States for 10 years, primarily residing with his parents. His mother and sister, who were in great fear for his life, had not been able to reach him for a couple of hours so they drove to the yard where he parked his truck. They found his lifeless body and called 911.
Four days after the murder, the San Joaquin Sherriff’s Department arrested Gurparkash Singh Khalsa, the father of Ajmer’s former girlfriend, Kirin Pannu. Several months later, the evidence, all circumstantial, was sent to a grand jury. After the four-day grand jury session, Khalsa was indicted on the charge of first-degree murder.
Fifty-eight year-old Khalsa, a prominent member of the local Sikh community and owner of a local trucking firm, avoided trial for three years by changing attorneys. In March 2010, a jury was selected for Khalsa’s murder trial. I would become Juror No. 7.