Monday, February 6, 2012

Auburn, WA: Auburn man stands trial for murder of wife

Jury selection began Monday for the trial of an Auburn man charged with the 2009 murder of his wife.

Paramjit Singh Basra, 53, will stand trial for the second-degree murder of Harjinder Basra, 39, with prosecutors reserving the alternative of premeditated first-degree murder if intent can be shown at trial.

According to charging papers filed in King County Superior Court, Auburn police arrested Basra on July 27, 2009, after his hysterical daughter called 911 to report that her father had attacked her mother and was trying to kill her.

According to charging papers, the girl called 911 again and told the operator that her father, a truck driver, had just returned to the family home in the 29500 block of 125th Avenue Southeast, pushed his hands up against his wife's throat and killed her. The girl said that one point he had used a rope to kill her, his daughter, too, but that she had locked herself in the master bathroom.

When police arrived at the home, charging papers say, they found the door slightly ajar and Basra looking out at them. He closed and locked the door. An officer knocked and told him to come out, which he eventually did, according to charging papers.

As the officer placed handcuffs on Basra, according to the report, he said in broken English, "Ahh ... ahh ... the problem is, I killed my wife. She's in the room to the right." According to the report, Basra appeared "very calm" as he made this admission.

According to the report, police found Harjinder Basra lying on the floor by the foot of the bed in the upstairs master bedroom, warm, but unconscious and without a pulse. Medics restored a pulse and rushed her to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle.

When police tried to question Mr. Basra, he asked for an attorney and the interrogation stopped. On the way to the patrol car, he allegedly said that he had "family problems," "I killed my wife," and "she has problems with men, so I killed her."

Police later searched the Basra home and found no signs of a struggle but turned up a car charger cord lying on the bed.

Mrs. Basra was declared brain dead on July 30. The King County Medical Examiner's Office determined her death was "homicide due to asphyxiation caused by ligature strangulation."

Prosecutors at first charged Basra with second-degree attempted murder but amended the charge to second-degree murder up his wife's death.

The trial is expected to last eight to 10 court days.

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