Date Published: Fri, 05/05/2017
Restaurant owner admits misleading investigation of Jaswinder Singh case.
By Haven Orecchio-Egresitz
BARNSTABLE — A 50-year-old Falmouth man has pleaded guilty in Barnstable Superior Court to charges that he misled an investigation into a 2014 Falmouth death. The same charges against two co-defendants were dropped.
Malkit Thind and two men who worked at his Indian restaurant in downtown Falmouth — Karamjit Singh and Salwinder Singh — were arrested in September 2014 after police alleged they lied to investigators looking into the possible killing of 46-year-old Indian national Jaswinder Singh. None of the Singhs are related.
Jaswinder Singh was found lying near the back exit of The Golden Swan restaurant, where he also worked, on the night of Sept. 4, 2014, with a 4-inch laceration to his throat. The investigation into his death is ongoing.
“It was a long and arduous defense with motions to suppress statements, other motions,” attorney Drew Segadelli, who represented Salwinder Singh, said Friday. “I assumed representation in September of 2014 and since that time I’ve never given up a zealous fight for my man. To finally give a hug and let him go, back to working, probably back to his own country, was very satisfying.”
The Cape and Islands District Attorney’s Office dismissed charges against Salwinder and Karamjit Singh on Tuesday, when Thind pleaded guilty to one count of intimidating a witness.
Thind was placed on probation for two years with no conditions.
The charge stems from early in the investigation when Thind told police that a man in a white T-shirt had come to the restaurant to report finding the body. Police later determined the man did not exist.
“He misled the investigation,” Segadelli said of what police alleged against Thind. “He ‘impeded’ it because he first spoke of another person who may have committed the crime, so that diverted the attention of law enforcement in the wrong direction.”
In December, after spending months mulling over more than 1,000 pages of transcripts and hours of recorded police interviews, a Barnstable Superior Court judge ruled that investigators violated the rights of Karamjit Singh during a five-hour interrogation related to the death.
Attorneys for the other two men made similar arguments during several hearings on a joint motion to suppress statements the defendants made to police, but the judge denied those bids.
The defense team had contended that all three men made statements while they believed they were in police custody and before they were read their Miranda rights against self-incrimination. The attorneys also argued that police used an unofficial translator who spoke Hindi to the men but not their native language of Punjabi.
Prosecutors countered that the men were free to leave at any point during the interviews before they were read their rights. They also argued that the men had demonstrated their understanding of the English and Hindi languages during prior interactions with police and an unofficial translator.
During the case, experts who were consulted said there have been cases of people who died by suicide having wounds consistent with those on Jaswinder Singh, but investigators still believe it was a homicide, Segadelli said.