Amandeep Singh Dhami was convicted Wednesday in Sacramento Superior Court of second-degree murder and attempted murder in the killing of his rival and the wounding of another man in a fatal 2008 shooting at a Sikh temple’s sports festival near Elk Grove.
Jurors listened to a month of testimony in the trial before Judge Richard Sueyoshi, then deliberated for nearly a week before reaching their decision Wednesday afternoon. At trial, prosecutor Anthony Ortiz depicted Dhami as a violent man steeped in gang life who arrived at the outdoor sports festival on Bradshaw Road on Aug. 31, 2008. Dhami, he said, was “armed for a massacre” and ready to settle a score with rival Parmjit Pamma Singh, 26, in a long-standing feud that reignited at a San Jose nightspot.
Dhami arrived at the festival grounds just after midday with a trusted lieutenant, Gurpreet Singh Gosul, flown in for the occasion, armed and carrying 250 rounds of ammunition.
The prosecution and defense varied in their versions of what happened, but, minutes after the pair arrived, Singh was shot dead on the festival’s cricket grounds, and his confidant, Sahibjeet Singh, was wounded but alive. Gosul was quickly captured in the mob scene that ensued and would go on to serve a prison term for second-degree murder in the shooting. Dhami managed to escape, eluding authorities for five years in India before he was returned to the United States in 2013 to stand trial.
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In Sacramento and while a fugitive in India, Dhami boasted in rap lyrics and Facebook posts presented at trial using the moniker “Mista Killafornia” that dramatized the shooting in rhyme, proclaiming that halfway around the world he was “still keepin it gangsta.”
Dhami defense counsel Daniel Horowitz argued that Dhami and Gosul agreed to meet with Singh at the festival – neutral ground for a peace meeting where, Dhami testified, “two gangsters could work things out” – but were armed to protect themselves from a possible ambush by an armed Singh and his crew. On Wednesday, a visibly anxious Dhami awaited the jury’s decision, family members in attendance as they had been throughout the trial.
After Wednesday’s verdict before Judge Russell L. Hom, sitting in for Sueyoshi, Horowitz praised jurors as “extremely dedicated and fair” but said the trial should have ended with Dhami’s acquittal.
“The jury understood there was provocation on the other side. They must’ve realized that Dhami was there for a peace meeting,” Horowitz said.
Horowitz said he plans to file a motion for a new trial.
Sentencing in the case is set for Sept. 4 before Judge Sueyoshi.