CRIME: Accused in Maple Batalia murder appears in court

Sarbjit Batalia appears at a press conference with a photograph of her slain daughter Maple projected behind her. Les Bazso/PNG

SUSAN LAZARUK
VANCOUVER DESI

A man accused of the first-degree murder of his ex-girlfriend, a Surrey model and aspiring doctor, appeared briefly in court on Monday.

Gurjinder (Gary) Dhaliwal, 20, wearing a black T-shirt, sat in the prisoner’s box, separated by thick glass from Maple Batalia’s parents a few metres away.

Dhaliwal, who looked unshaven, stared straight ahead or at the judge. He was asked no questions and said nothing.

He quickly left after the hearing, which lasted less than two minutes, ducking behind a door to leave the dock.

A second accused in the slaying at SFU’s Surrey campus, Gursimar Bedi, 22, appeared at the same time by video. He was wearing a white T-shirt and grey sweats and held a hand up to his head and face.

Bedi is charged with manslaughter, using a firearm and being an accessory after the fact.

Both were ordered to appear in court on Dec. 17 by video.

The Crown also asked the court to order the two men not to communicate with the dead woman’s family or with each other.

Batalia was gunned down in a hail of bullets in a parkade at 1 a.m. on Sept. 28, 2011, after she left the campus where she was cramming for mid-term exams.

Dhaliwal was arrested for allegedly assaulting Batalia and a man she was with at a Tim Hortons days before the murder. Those charges were stayed.

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Batalia’s parents were visibly upset after the hearing and left surrounded by supporters and a daughter after a brief meeting with the Crown. They didn’t speak to media.

RCMP Cpl. Jennifer Pound, spokeswoman for the Integrated Homicide Investigation Team, said they were tired, having learned on Saturday the two men had been charged.

Pound confirmed Dhaliwal was Maple’s ex-boyfriend.

“This isn’t an easy day for us,” Batalia’s sister, Roseleen Batalia, said on Saturday. “We’re just hoping that Maple will finally be at peace.”

The family has raised $50,000 for the Maple Batalia Memorial Fund for health science students at SFU.





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