Justice for Vancouver teen shot to death in 1999 as accused ex-boyfriend enters surprise guilty plea

KEITH FRASER
VANCOUVER DESI

Ninderjit Singh

Santa Monica Police Department booking photo of Ninderjit Singh, who on March 11, 2013 pleaded guilty in Vancouver, B.C., to the second-degree murder of ex-girlfriend Poonam Randhawa. Submitted photo/PNG files

A man who was extradited back to Canada from the United States to face a charge he shot to death an 18-year-old Vancouver girl more than 14 years ago pleaded guilty Monday to second-degree murder.

Ninderjit Singh entered his surprise guilty plea in the 1999 slaying of Poonam Randhawa on what was to have been the first day of his jury trial in B.C. Supreme Court in Vancouver.

Singh was escorted back to Vancouver in September 2011 following his arrest in Riverside County, Calif., a month earlier, after being on the lam for 12 years.

Documents filed in the U.S. say that Singh shot Randhawa once in the head while they drove westbound on Vancouver’s West 57th Avenue on the afternoon of Jan. 26, 1999.

The body of the popular high school student was discovered lying in a lane near Granville and West 47th by a passerby.

The couple had been dating but broke up after Singh assaulted her, according to the court documents. Vancouver police have said that the accused was stalking Randhawa.

Shortly after the shooting, Singh fled to the U.S. and eventually assumed a false identity.

He later married and had two children and, prior to his arrest, had been working as a long-haul truck driver.

Vancouver Police spokesman Sgt. Randy Fincham said the department hopes Singh’s guilty plea brings a measure of closure to the Randhawa family.

“You can only imagine how hard this has been for the family to wait 14 years for this person to be returned and brought to the justice system, and to plead guilty to this offence,” said Fincham. “It’s a significant amount of time. Fourteen years is a very long time.”

Fincham credited assistance from the U.S. authorities in helping catch Singh.

Singh was initially charged with first-degree murder, but pleaded guilty to the lesser offence.

The plea came as B.C. Supreme Court Madam Justice Laura Gerow was preparing to hear a voir dire, or a trial within a trial, prior to Crown counsel opening before the jury on Wednesday.

Second-degree murder carries a mandatory sentence of life in prison with a minimum of 10 years and maximum of 25 years of parole ineligibility.

Sentencing has been set for March 27.

kfraser@theprovince.com
twitter.com/keithrfraser

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