The trial has begun for Indo-Canadian man who has been accused of killing his wife. Harinder Singh Cheema, a Montreal resident is on trial for the murder of his wife a decade ago. He has taken the stand to testify in his own defence.
Cheema claims the victim provoked the attack by calling his mother and sister whores during a heated argument.
While on the witness stand in his second-degree murder trial on Wednesday, Harinder Singh Cheema, 38, testified is his own defence in his trial where he is charged with the second-degree murder of his wife, Gurpreet Kaur, on Dec. 24, 2007. Kaur was stabbed 14 times inside the couple’s apartment on Deguire St. in the St-Laurent borough and, as Cheema admitted to the jury, he fled the following day to Ontario before moving on a couple of days later to B.C., where he had friends. One of those friends, a fellow trucker, helped him cross the border to the U.S. where Cheema lived until he was arrested in California in 2015. In the interim, he managed to return to his native India and lived there, between 2011 and 2014, where he married a woman he met in California.
“My intention was not to kill my wife, but I killed my wife,” Cheema said early on in his testimony on Wednesday.
“I will ask for forgiveness of the victim and the victim’s family.”
He also apologized to his two children saying “they lost both a mother and a father.” While answering questions from his lawyer, Clemente Monterosso, he said his son and daughter now live in India with Kaur’s parents.
In the weeks before the homicide, Kaur and Cheema had their son, and their daughter was roughly 18 months old. Cheema testified that the couple were in dire straits, in part because his car had been stolen the previous October. He said Kaur was frustrated because she had difficulty breastfeeding their baby and their problems boiled over into frequent arguments.
At the time, Cheema, who was born in India and had been turned down for a refugee claim in Canada, was residing in Montreal on a conditional release and had been ordered to return to India. While insisting several times that his immigration status had nothing to do with the homicide, he also said Kaur had obtained permanent resident status shortly after they married in 2006, and that she held that over his head while they argued. He said she threatened “to cancel my (immigration) papers.”
“It was a very difficult situation — out of control,” Cheema said of the day he killed his wife.
He said his infant son was crying often and that Kaur felt ashamed that he had asked a friend to bring his mother over to the apartment to help with the baby. As they argued, Cheema said, Kaur hurled insults at him by calling his mother and sister whores. He also said she grabbed a knife from the kitchen and came toward him with it.
While insisting several times that his immigration status had nothing to do with the homicide, Cheema appeared to contradict himself later on by saying: “I consider myself a victim. She abused a power (her role in his application to be a permanent resident in Canada).”
Cheema said that after he killed Kaur, he collected his two children and drove away from the apartment. He asked a friend to look after the children, but the man, who was also informed of what had happened to Kaur, refused the request.
Cheema said his next stop was a neighbourhood police station in Park Extension where, he said, he planned to surrender himself and hand over his children.
“I walked in and a police officer said: ‘Can I help you?’ I had my two children in my hands and suddenly thought that I killed my wife and maybe they’ll give me the death penalty. So I backed out,” he said, adding he contacted a woman he knew and she agreed to look after his children.
“I see my kids in my head,” Cheema said, sobbing at one point. “The baby was 20 days (old). What kind of a father am I? I just gave my kids to (the woman) and I walked away.”