Jagtar Gill's family braces for murder retrial
2016 conviction of husband Bhupinderpal Gill, Gurpreet Ronald overturned due to judge's blunder
The niece of a slain Ottawa woman says her family is feeling anxiety and anguish as a new judge-alone trial gets underway seven years after her aunt's death.
"I really want to get this over with," Ramandeep Chahal said.
Jagtar Gill, a 43-year-old mother of three, was found stabbed and bludgeoned to death on Jan. 29, 2014 — her 17th wedding anniversary — in her Barrhaven home. In 2016 a jury found her husband, Bhupinderpal Gill, and Gurpreet Ronald guilty of first-degree murder.
Three years later, however, Ontario's Court of Appeal granted the pair a new trial after finding the original trial judge had erred when he instructed the jury.
Having to re-hear those things for a second time ... is definitely going to be difficult.- Ramandeep Chahal
Chahal said this new trial will be all the more difficult because pandemic restrictions mean she and her family won't be able to see their supporters in the courthouse.
"I think as a family sometimes you feel like you might be the only one feeling these emotions. To see other people in the courtroom who were just friends or colleagues, to also break down or show their feelings, it was a little bit reassuring that we were not alone," said Chahal.
"We're going to miss their presence, miss their support."
Chahal said more than 50 friends had expressed interest in attending the proceedings, but COVID-19 restrictions limit courtroom attendance to immediate family only. Everyone else will have to follow the retrial at home via video.
Chahal said during the original trial, some family members had to leave the courtroom when evidence became too disturbing. Now they'll have to go through that all over again.
"Having to re-hear those things for a second time ... is definitely going to be difficult," Chahal said. Still, she said they feel it's important to be there because of everything Jagtar Gill did for the family.
Bhupinderpal Gill's original lawyer James Harbic is returning for the new trial. After the appeal ruling, Harbic said the judge's failure to properly instruct the jury undermined his client's defence that Ronald had acted alone following a confrontation with Jagtar Gill about an affair between the two accused.
In a statement, Harbic said his client is looking forward to being vindicated and being reunited with his children.
Ronald has a new defence lawyer, Michael Spratt, for the retrial.