Bakersfield man found guilty of murdering daughter-in-law in 'honor killing'

Justice (FILE)
Posted at 10:58 PM, May 04, 2022
and last updated 2022-05-05 02:21:05-04

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KERO) — According to court records Jagjit Singh has been found guilty of murdering his 37-year-old daughter-in-law Sumandeep Kooner.

Singh shot Kooner multiple times at a home in Southwest Bakersfield in 2019. The defense claimed he was disrespected by the woman so killing her was a matter of honor.

A Bakersfield Police officer, speaking to Singh in Punjabi, interviewed him about the moments he allegedly shot and killed Kooner. Singh claimed Kooner was having an affair, speaking to a man who was living in England, and was allegedly going to leave her husband, Singh's son.

According to court documents, Singh says he confronted Kooner about the affair, lecturing her about why she should not leave the family. Singh claims Kooner then became upset and stated she was not interested in hearing his advice.

Singh said Kooner told him, "I am going to rip your beard off and stick it up your ass."

Documents state Singh said that in the Indian community the beard is a status symbol and never should be disrespected. Singh said Kooner's statement was the most degrading thing a person could tell someone.

Singh claims he begged her to just ask for forgiveness. But he claims Kooner told him she did not care what he had to say and continued to disrespect him and to mind his own business.

Singh states Kooner said she was going to "finish" him by ripping her clothes off and calling the police to claim that he attempted to sexually assault her.

Singh claims Kooner again motioned as if she was going to rip off her shirt and was going to tell police he tried to rape her.

Singh said he became angry, went to his room and picked up a gun. He went back to the living room where Kooner was. He says she again threatened to rip off her shirt and accuse of him of attempted rape.

Singh said seeing her naked would be a major source of dishonor within the Indian community. He said he would lose his honor in his temple community if he were to be accused of seeing Kooner naked or if he were to be accused of trying to sexually assault her.

Singh said he decided he and his family had been dishonored by Kooner and he determined that the only two ways of maintaining his honor would be to kill himself or kill Kooner. Documents also say, "Singh stated he determined at that time his only choice was to commit an honor killing of his daughter-in-law for her indiscretions and disrespectful behavior."

Documents state Singh stepped toward the back of the sofa where Kooner was sitting, and shot her in the back of her neck and shoulder area. Singh then said he shot her two more times in the neck area because he "did not want her to suffer."

He then called police to report an emergency.

Documents state "Singh stated at the time it felt like it was the correct thing to do because of how angry he had become when his honor was challenged; however, now feels it was not the correct thing to do. Singh further advised when she was ripping her t-shirt off 'either she was going to die or I was going to die.'"

Singh admitted to understanding the consequences of his actions but said the act of killing Kooner was necessary to maintain his standing within his community.