Trucker admits he struck wife with hammer as murder trial opens

SARNIA- A Brampton truck driver admitted hitting his wife with a hammer and deliberately setting fire to the transport truck on Highway 402 near Sarnia.

Sukhchain Singh Brar, 52, was charged with first-degree murder following the Jan. 31, 2016, death of his wife, Gurpreet Brar, 37 - writes lfpress.com

Her body was found in the burnt remains of the truck on the highway’s westbound lanes about 3 a.m. on Jan. 31, 2016.

A list of admissions prepared by Crown and defence lawyers was read to the jury Wednesday morning at Brar’s trial in Superior Court in Sarnia.

Those admissions included how Brar caused his wife’s death by hitting her with a steel hammer and deliberately setting fire to the truck.

The admitted facts also stated their marriage had been arranged in 1999, and they had been living in Brampton with their three children, along with Brar’s mother and brother.

In opening remarks to the jury, assistant Crown attorney Melanie Nancekievill said Brar’s wife was a devoted mother whose last comments to her daughter were to ensure her younger son’s clothes were ready for a school trip and that she was scared.

The woman was depressed and traumatized by the tension in the home, prompting her plan to move to India. She had booked a flight for herself and the two youngest children. In the days leading up to her death, the woman had signed a will and power of attorney giving all of her assets to Brar, said Nancekievill.

Witnesses will testify they saw a small fire in the truck while Brar was standing in the median and making no mention of his wife being inside until the truck cab was engulfed in flames, Nancekievill said.

Brar pleaded guilty to manslaughter as the trial opened Tuesday, but the Crown rejected his plea to the lesser offence

The Criminal Code defines first-degree murder as planned and deliberate, while manslaughter is a killing in the heat of passion caused by sudden provocation.

Superior Court Justice Bruce Thomas told jurors he will explain the difference between the two offences and how the law applies to the evidence they have heard before they begin their deliberations.

He also told jurors it is the Crown’s burden to displace the presumption of innocence that exists for Brar.

It is up to the jury to decide if the evidence they will hear substantiates the Crown’s position, said Thomas.

Jurors will begin hearing evidence Thursday in a trial expected to last four weeks.

Fourteen jurors were selected Tuesday, along with two alternates. The standard criminal jury size is 12, but 14 ensures the trial can proceed if a juror is unable to carry on. The minimum size for a jury is 10.

Two jurors were excused Wednesday morning based on letters presented to the judge, and were replaced by two alternates.

All 14 jurors will hear the evidence, but only 12 will be involved in deliberations. Two jurors will be randomly selected to be excluded from deliberations.

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