After 12 long years, the family of Navneet Kaur are finally close to getting some closure on the murder of their daughter. Avtar Grewal has been found guilty of the first-degree murder of his wife. After which he fled to India. He is scheduled to be sentenced Aug. 23.
The courtroom was told how Avtar Grewal killed Navneet Kaur in her Ahwatukee house in 2007 after she told him she wanted a divorce. He strangled her and then submerged her in a bathtub of water. He was arrested by international authorities and extradited back to the United States.
While cross-examining Grewal, prosecutor Juan Martinez showed the court a letter the state believes the defendant wrote and left at his wife’s home.
“I killed this selfish b—-h who tortured me for 2 years. Made my life hell,” the letter said.
Grewal went on to testify he never called a woman the derogatory word in his life and said the sentence was part of a suicide note.
Throughout the trial, defense attorneys argued Grewal did not mean to kill his wife and wanted his family to hate him because of his guilt. However, prosecutors argued the murder was premeditated and Grewal had a pattern of controlling behaviour.
Grewal obsessed with control?
During closing arguments, prosecutors told the court Grewal immediately showed his “true colours” after he married Kaur in 2005.
The two married in India. Grewal was living in Canada and Kaur was living in the U.S. on a visa. In opening statements, attorneys said the couple knew when they married, the relationship would continue to remain long-distance.
Grewal would call his wife multiple times to find out her location, according to prosecutors. When she didn’t answer the phone, he would call her office and other people.
Martinez discussed a time when Kaur and her brother were at a photo counter inside a Costco. Grewal called multiple locations in the Valley until he found the right one and asked a staff member to hand the phone to his wife.
Prosecutors argued Grewal wanted to be in control and was jealous.
Guilty Verdict reached (1m 12 seconds)
During their marriage, Kaur needed heart surgery. She chose to be treated in the United States. However, Grewal wanted her to have surgery in Canada.
Martinez said the surgery was important to the trial because it showed Kaur cared about herself, while Grewal only cared about what was best for him.
The state explained Grewal looked through his wife’s laptop while she was recovering and read her diary.
“The only pattern in his life was an individual who keeps escalating,” Martinez said.
The couple fought over a divorce
Around the time of her death, Kaur told Grewal over the phone that she wanted a divorce over the phone. According to prosecutors, Grewal said he wanted to speak about it in person.
Prosecutors and defense attorneys disagreed on why he came to Phoenix.
His attorneys said he wanted to talk like they did before when they had disagreements.
“For Avtar, when that phone would ring, he was walking on eggshells not knowing where this was going to go,” defense attorney Jeffrey Kirchler told the court during opening statements.
Grewal flew from Canada to Phoenix. Kaur picked him up from the airport and took him to her house.
Kaur repeated her desire of wanting a divorce and admitted to cheating on Grewal, according to defense attorneys. The couple started to argue and it escalated to the two slapping each other, the defense attorneys said.
Prosecutors said Kaur kicked Grewal in the groin.
At some point, Grewal “strangled a woman to death with his bare hands,” Martinez said.
Prosecutors said Grewal dragged his wife into a bathroom because he didn’t think she was dead. Then, he placed her face down in the tub and filled it with water.
He later wrote the note.
Confusion, filled with guilt?
Grewal’s attorney Richard Randall said what happen to Kaur was tragic because “her life was extinguished.”
“Avtar had no intent to kill Navneet,” he said during closing statements.
His lawyers explained the two would celebrate birthdays, go on shopping sprees and visit each other. Their wedding photo was inside Kaur’s home in Ahwatukee.
Defense attorneys said Grewal killed his wife on accident and then made multiple attempts to take his own life.
An expert testified that Grewal can become confused when he is under high stress.
Kirchler said Grewal felt like he failed at everything. He wanted everyone to hate him.
Court documents stated Grewal has mental health issues and is being housed in the mental health unit in jail.
Tension in the courtroom
During his testimony, Grewal directed many comments directly to Martinez. He called Martinez “analytical” and accused him of “bullying” him.
Before defense attorneys gave their closing argument, they asked the judge for a mistrial. Grewal’s attorneys accused Martinez of saying that they had “coached” Grewal to try to get sympathy for his mental health issues.
However, the judge denied the motion, saying it was fine for an attorney to mention another’s strategy and that Martinez used the word “rehearsed” and not “coached.”