The suspect arrested in connection with the sensational Aug 25 murder of a 64-year-old Sikh man taking a walk in a park in Tracy, California, has pleaded not guilty.
Anthony Kreiter-Rhoads, 21, accused of killing Parmjit Singh by slitting his throat while he was taking a walk at the Gretchen Talley Park in this town 60 miles east of San Francisco, entered his plea at his first court hearing on Wednesday, Sept 4.
Kreiter-Rhoads was arrested last Friday, Aug 30, and charged with homicide. No hate-crime charge has been filed against him as yet.
According to ABC10 local news, about 30 family members, friends and even a former teacher showed up to see the young man in court and lend support.
Kreiter-Rhoads has been assigned a public defender. His next hearing is on September 16. “I hope to have him vindicated that he did not do this. I believe he is innocent,” said Lisa Alvarado, a family friend of Kreiter-Rhoads, according to ABC10.
Friends called Kreiter-Rhoads a lively young man, an athlete, and an intelligent man, and said he had always been kind and respectful.
But on Sunday, Aug 25, a surveillance camera showed Kreiter-Rhoads running from the park and then turning around to pick stuff from the ground. Other footage showed Parmjit Singh at 8:35 pm walking fast for a few meters. Then someone saw him fall and called police around 8:55 pm. He died around 9:05 pm.
Harnek Singh Kang, the 40-year-old son-in-law of Parmjit Singh, told indica, “I am adamant he is the one.” He said he could not disclose it but there is strong evidence. “Let his family and friends call him innocent. He is the only one,” insisted Kang.
Kang believes Kreiter-Rhoads acted alone and it probably was a hate crime, but the motive for the killing remains unclear as of now.
Asked whether the Kreiter-Rhoads family had extended their “deepest condolences” to Parmjit Singh’s family as mentioned by ABC10, Kang told indica, “We just had eye contact, they [the Kreiter-Rhoads family] did not say anything.”
Kang, who was shocked at the way his father-in-law died, had earlier told indica that even though 911 and an ambulance reached the horrific scene quickly, Parmjit Singh succumbed to the heavy bleeding he had suffered. “We are in shock and wonder why anyone would kill such a nice person,” he had said.
Parmjit Singh, who used to work at the Ghirardelli chocolate factory in Tracy, used to visit churches, temples, and gurdwaras everywhere he went. On the day of the attack, he had stopped for tea in the neighborhood. He had also told his family he would be back in time for dinner.
A native of Punjab, India, Parmjit Singh had moved to the US only three years ago. He used to walk two miles every day, and he was doing exactly that the night he was killed.