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Violent past recalled in Sikh sports festival slaying trial

Amandeep Singh Dhami
Amandeep Singh Dhami

Prosecutors delved into Amandeep Singh Dhami’s violent past Tuesday as witnesses and peace officers who responded to the shooting involving the Elk Grove man testified at Dhami’s murder trial in Sacramento Superior Court.

Dhami is accused of killing Parmjit Pamma Singh, 26, and wounding another man at a sports festival at a Bradshaw Road Sikh temple Aug. 31, 2008 – payback, prosecutors say, for a long-running feud with Singh that reignited a week earlier at a San Jose nightclub.

Dhami’s attorney Daniel Horowitz contends Dhami and a friend, Gurpreet Singh Gosul, were hoping to make peace with Parmjit Singh, but carried firearms for protection fearing they were walking into an ambush.

Davis police Lt. Paul Doroshov told jurors Tuesday that he was nearing the end of his shift in February 2003, when he got a call of shots fired on Russell Boulevard that ended with the arrests of Dhami and three others at gunpoint. Doroshov said Davis officers recovered firearms, including a stolen semi-automatic handgun, from the group’s Cadillac Escalade.

Jurors also heard from Weldon Curran and Erik Visser. The two were on Interstate 80 near Madison Avenue after a round of golf at Haggin Oaks Golf Complex in March 2007, when they noticed a sport-utility vehicle and truck jockeying, tailgating and braking behind them, Curran testified.

Curran’s car and the two others were stopping at a traffic light at the Madison Avenue offramp when the apparent road rage escalated. Dhami was in the SUV, and he had a gun, Curran testified.

“We were coming to a stop when a gun was fired. The gun was fired up in the air,” Curran said. “The impression I got was that it was a warning shot.”

Visser testified that truck’s driver climbed out of his vehicle before the gunshot and was walking toward Dhami’s vehicle before Dhami stepped out of his car and fired into the air sending the man back to the truck, before driving away.

Curran and Visser followed Dhami and called 911. Dhami was arrested about a mile later, California Highway Patrol Officer Chad Schmitt later testified, a .38-caliber handgun with one round fired, stowed in the SUV’s center console.

Little more than a year later, Parmjit Singh was killed on the cricket grounds of a Sikh temple’s festival. Tajinder Uppal of Yuba City had just finished a field hockey match, he testified Tuesday, when he heard the shots. Minutes before the gunfire, he saw a black SUV drive into the parking lot and two men get out. He later identified one man as Dhami. Chaos soon reigned.

“There was a big crowd getting together. People were running around all over the place,” Uppal said. Gosul sprinted for a nearby field, chased by men carrying field hockey sticks and cricket bats.

Gosul was captured, quickly arrested and now is serving a prison sentence for second-degree murder in Singh’s death. Dhami, then 24, escaped, then fled the United States for India where he eluded authorities for five years before his arrest by Indian authorities and his extradition to California in 2013 to stand trial.

Testimony continues Wednesday before Judge Richard Sueyoshi in Sacramento Superior Court.

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