Canada: Victim’s family sues suspect in honor killing

By Scott Smith
Record Staff Writer
January 24, 2009 6:00 AM

STOCKTON – A man who awaits a murder trial on charges he gunned down his daughter’s former lover now faces a wrongful death lawsuit in civil court seeking $15 million on grounds he caused the man’s family emotional suffering.

Gurparkash Khalsa, 56, remains in jail charged with killing Ajmer Hothi, 23, on March 27, 2007.

Hothi’s mother found him shot to death in his big rig parked at a lot east of Stockton. Prosecutors say Khalsa committed the crime to restore his daughter’s honor.

Hothi’s Lodi family seeks the money to compensate for their loss and to send a message, their attorney Steven Brown said Friday.

“They want to make it clear that he needs to be held accountable,” Brown said. “They’re extremely distraught and upset.”

Brown filed the lawsuit Thursday in San Joaquin County Superior Court on behalf of Jasvir Kaur, Hothi’s widow; Avtar Hothi, his father; and Manjit Kaur Hothi, the dead man’s mother.

According to prosecutors, Khalsa stalked Hothi, who had dated Khalsa’s daughter and sought to marry her. The families of both men were members of the close-knit Stockton Sikh community.

Khalsa rejected Hothi’s bid to marry his daughter because Hothi was a trucker of a lower class, and Khalsa owned Pacific Coast Intermodal, a trucking firm based in French Camp, prosecutors have said.

Khalsa later learned that his daughter had aborted Hothi’s child.

The father then demanded the couple marry. But in the meantime Hothi’s parents had sent their son to India for an arranged marriage, according to court papers.

Prosecutors accuse Khalsa of tracking down Hothi and ambushing him in the cab of his big rig.

Hothi was shot nine times with a Beretta handgun similar to one Khalsa had registered years before, according to a police report. The gun was never recovered.

Khalsa’s attorney, Joel Carash, declined to comment for this story, citing the pending trial.

San Joaquin County Deputy District Attorney Robert Himelblau seeks a life prison term for Khalsa.

Khalsa and his attorneys are due in court next month to ask a judge to dismiss the criminal charges ahead of the jury trial set for May.

Contact reporter Scott Smith at (209) 546-8296 or ssmith