Graphic evidence takes toll on Jagtar Gill family during murder trial
Warning: This story contains descriptions of evidence some readers may find disturbing
Family and friends of Jagtar Gill, the Ottawa woman who was bludgeoned and stabbed to death in 2014, were moved to tears in an Ottawa courtroom Tuesday, as pictures of her body and the crime scene were shown to the jury during a first-degree murder trial.
Gill's body was found at her Brambling Way home in the Ottawa neighbourhood of Barrhaven on Jan. 29, 2014, by her teenage daughter and husband.
Her husband, Bhupinderpal Gill, and Gurpreet Ronald, a neighbour and co-worker with whom Bhupinderpal Gill was in a longstanding affair, are each charged with first-degree murder and have pleaded not guilty.
On Tuesday more than two dozen family and friends of Jagtar Gill watched the Crown go through extremely graphic photos of the deceased, with some gasping audibly in the courtroom at the disturbing images.
Ottawa police Const. Julie Dobler, a forensic identification expert, walked the jury through the crime scene and pointed out evidence seized from the Gill home.
Jagtar Gill's sister, Harjinder Sidhu cried and at times put clenched fists to her face as the Crown presented the grisly photos of Gill's body. A young woman beside her held her hand.
Gill's father Ajit Singh Mann broke down and left the courtroom as the photographs were shown.
Knives in sink had blood on them
Dobler recalled to Crown prosecutor Brian Holowka how she and fellow forensic officers photographed, searched and seized evidence throughout the home.
Police discovered blood on the kitchen faucet and the rim around the sink. On the floor of the kitchen was a can of household cleaner with blood on it.
Dobler said Ronald's blood was found in the kitchen.
In the family room police found blood on the carpet and couch. A small table rested near Gill's body. One of the legs of the table had been broken off.
The finger of a blue latex glove was also found near the deceased. A box of similar-looking blue gloves was seized from a kitchen cupboard in the Gill's kitchen.
When police questioned Gurpreet Ronald several days after the killing about the bandage on her finger she said she'd cut it chopping vegetables.
Weightlifting bar found, replaced
Blood was also visible on a baseboard on the second-floor hallway and on the door into the master bedroom. Inside the master bedroom washroom there was blood on a white bathroom mat in front of the sink.
Dobler also showed the court a picture of a long metal weightlifting bar with blood on it that police found inside a box on top of a fake Christmas tree. She testified that police took the blood-stained bar and replaced it with an exact replica.
Some time after the killing police followed Bhupinderpal Gill to Cedarview Road where they say he threw the replica bar into a wooded area.
A bloody shirt worn by Jagtar Gill was also shown to the jury and Dobler pointed out multiple puncture marks in the fabric, especially near the neck, collar and shoulders.
Co-accused were lovers, conspired to kill, Crown contends
Crown prosecutor Jason Neubauer told Ontario Superior Court last week during opening statements that Ronald and Bhupinderpal Gill were lovers for a year and a half and that they conspired to kill Jagtar Gill, whom they both hated.
Phone records show the co-accused spoke for about 48 hours during hundreds of calls in the 28 days leading up to the killing and met each other repeatedly, Neubauer told court.
On the day she was killed, Neubauer said, Gill was at her "most vulnerable" following abdominal surgery the day before.
Her husband and daughter left the home that morning to buy anniversary presents, and that is when, the Crown alleges, Ronald entered the home and bludgeoned and stabbed a weakened Gill.
On the day of the killing, phone records show the two accused spoke four times and met up after Gill was dead at a nearby grocery store, where they spoke briefly and left in separate vehicles.
Neubauer said the Gills' teenage daughter was the first to make the "shocking and gruesome" discovery of a "particularly brutal killing" when she and her father returned to their Barrhaven home.
Dobler's testimony is scheduled to continue Wednesday.