Accused in Jagtar Gill murder trial told police she cut hand opening bag of potatoes
An Ottawa woman whose blood was found at the brutal stabbing death of her alleged lover's wife told police the day after the killing that she cut her fingers opening a bag of potatoes, an Ottawa court heard Tuesday.
Gurpreet Ronald, 37, and Bhupinderpal Gill, 40, are on trial for first-degree murder in the death of Gill's wife, Jagtar Gill.
The 43-year-old mother of three was found on January 29, 2014, bludgeoned and stabbed multiple times in her home in the Ottawa community of Barrhaven.
The co-accused are being tried together but have separate legal teams.
In court on Tuesday, Crown prosecutors played a nearly two-and-a-half hour video-taped police interview done with Gurpreet Ronald the day after Jagtar Gill's death.
'I'm having a breakdown' Ronald tells officer
Ottawa police acting Staff Sgt. Alison Cookson brought Ronald into police headquarters on Elgin Street at 9:30 p.m. to begin the lengthy session.
At the end of the interrogation, Ronald and Cookson get up and walk out of view of the camera but their voices can still be heard.
The officer asked Ronald what was wrong.
"I'm having a breakdown and I'm trying to be strong," replies a crying Ronald. "Would you tell me what really happened — I don't have the nerves to ask anybody."
Cookson said the homicide is still in the investigation stage and told Ronald she can't give her information. Then the jury heard the police officer asking Ronald, "What did you do to your fingers?"
"[I was] cutting a potato bag with the knife that my father-in-law sharpened," replied Ronald. "I didn't know it was that sharp because it's usually the dullest knife in our house."
On Monday Ottawa police detective Ugo Garneau, a blood spatter analyst, told Ontario Superior Court Justice Julianne Parfett and the 12-person jury that swabs of blood he lifted from the rug next to Jagtar Gill's body, as well as blood in the kitchen, upstairs hallway and upstairs bathroom were tested and matched Gurpreet Ronald's.
Ronald says she was 'shocked' by homicide
At the beginning of video-taped interview Cookson asked Ronald her reaction to Jagtar Gill's homicide.
"To be honest, I'm shocked. I just don't know how to respond to the situation," Ronald responded.
She told the police officer she'd cut Jagtar Gill's hair and Gill's children's hair in exchange for prepared meals that Gill would make her.
"There are a few things I will miss," a choked-up Ronald replied. "I'm trying not to be emotional," she added, wiping her eyes.
Cookson wanted to know how well Ronald knew Bhupinderpal Gill, a fellow bus driver at OC Transpo.
Ronald replied that Bhupinderpal Gill had helped her several times renovate a home she and her husband were trying to sell. Ronald also said she and Gill would occasionally go for a coffee at the Rideau Centre if they were on a break at the same time.
Ronald said police wouldn't tell her what happened
Cookson then turned to the day of Gill's homicide. Ronald said she went out in the morning and when she returned home she saw both police cars and an ambulance in front of the Gill's home.
She said she parked her car and went up and knocked at the door. Ronald said a police officer wouldn't tell her what happened and told her she had to leave.
Ronald said around suppertime a work colleague called to say Jagtar had died of a heart attack but Ronald said she told her sister who was at her house visiting that "it doesn't make sense why there were so many police cars."
On Monday a Crown witness testified Ronald had told her she had been to the house and seen blood, but then later told the witness not to share that information with police.
During the interrogation, Cookson also wanted to know where Ronald had gone in the morning before she went to the Gill home.
She said she went to Sobeys to buy cauliflower because it was on special. Ronald said when she got there she ran into Bhupinderpal Gill, his daughter and his nephew, who were buying three cauliflowers.
Cookson was curious why she didn't end up buying the cauliflower. "I could get one from them because if they are cheap we share, that's why Bhupinderpal got three of them," Ronald replied. Before leaving the store Ronald said she hugged Gill's daughter.
Ronald admits to talking to co-accused '3 to 4 times a day'
Ronald also admitted in the interview that she had called Gill on his cellphone that morning after she noticed him drive by her house just to check in with him.
Cookson asked how often she spoke to Gill considering they must be good friends.
"Three or four times a day, usually when he is on a break," she said.
Cookson then asked Ronald to describe the Gill's marriage.
"He told me they had a good relationship and it was a happy marriage," Ronald said.
Cookson seemed to change her focus, asking Ronald if she read the newspaper story of that day describing Jagtar's violent death.
"I don't want to read it because then I have a picture in my head," Ronald replied. "Eventually I'm going to have to admit it happened," she said in a low, emotional tone.
"Do you think she defended herself?" asked Cookson.
"I would think so, if anyone tried to do that to me I'd fight back — damn right," said Ronald.
Ronald said she wouldn't attend funeral
Cookson asked Ronald if she'd go to Jagtar's funeral.
"I just can't be there for a funeral," she replied, saying it had been so hard for her when she was young and her own mother died.
Ronald offered up that she was very upset and cried when fellow OC Transpo driver Dave Woodard and others were killed in the collision between his bus and a Via train in September 2013.
Cookson asked her if she relates the bus tragedy to Gill's homicide.
"No, that was an accident, this is horrific," Ronald shot back.