VANCOUVER - With a gun pointed at her head, Poonam Randhawa stared up at her ex-boyfriend from the back seat of his friend's car and laid down a challenge just before he ended her life.
"I'm not scared of you. Go ahead, shoot me," the 18-year-old told the man.
With that, Ninderjit Singh made good on his threat to do exactly that if she didn't tell him "the truth" about her perceived infidelity.
Fourteen years after the murder, details of the Vancouver teen's "point-blank" killing and how the man evaded police for over a decade were recounted Wednesday at Singh's B.C. Supreme Court sentencing hearing.
The man, who was hunted and finally tracked down in California in August 2011, pleaded guilty to a reduced charge of second-degree murder in a plea deal earlier this month.
Noting a range of aggravating factors, the Crown asked a judge to sentence Singh to life in prison with no parole eligibility for 17 to 20 years.
Randhawa was killed just two days after her eighteenth birthday in a premeditated act by her former long-time boyfriend because he believed she was cheating on him, the court heard.
"He murdered her because she didn't show the respect he believed he was entitled to, because he believed she had made a fool of him in the eyes of his friends," said Crown lawyer Sandra Cunningham.
Court heard that on the day of the slaying, Singh asked a friend to drive him find Randhawa, who recently ended a two-year relationship with Singh.
The friend, who obtained an immunity agreement from police, recalled a loud and confrontational conversation between the pair that concluded with Singh half-standing over the teen threatening to shoot.
There was a single bang, and shattering glass.
"He could hear the air coming through the broken side window, he could smell blood in the car. He looked in his rear view (mirror) but couldn't see Poonam," Cunningham said.
They drove off. Singh was calm.
"(Singh) never went into the back seat or touched Poonam," she said. "He never checked to see if she was still alive. He had the gun in his hand. He told (the friend) that he really loved her and was thinking of marrying her."
About 30 members of the victim's family attended Wednesday's sentencing hearing, many who sobbed as Randhawa's mother read her victim impact statement to the court.
"Not a day or event in my life does not trigger memories of Poonam. I cannot attend happy events," said a weeping Madhubreet Randhawa, telling the court that both she and her husband have been diagnosed with severe depression. "I feel I have been robbed not only of my daughter but of my own joy of life."
The couple was already "broken-hearted" after losing their son to disease three years before the murder.
"But our daughter gave us strength," Madhubreet Randhawa said. "She said, 'Mom, I'm not your daughter, I'm your son. I will take care of you."
Harry Randhawa told reporters outside court that the evidence of his cousin's bravery before she died wasn't a surprise.
"That was our cousin, that was our little sister, she was fearless," he said.
He said the family wants the maximum possible penalty, adding there is never an excuse for killing another human being.
Court heard that after the shooting, Singh tossed the gun into a McDonalds bag that he threw into some bushes. He and his friend stopped in an empty alleyway, and Singh pushed out the teen's body.
The pair went to another friend's house, where he obtained cash and a ride across the border to Seattle. Singh didn't return to Canada until he was extradited after his arrest.
The judge heard that Singh's family allegedly knew all the details of his whereabouts, and even spent $150,000 so he could obtain fake identification that allowed him to assume an alias and social security number.
"Every single member of his family claimed to have no idea where he was," Cunningham said.
In later years, Singh's mother flew to California and spent one month with him and his new wife who had given birth to two daughters.
Police had been investigating heavily in the years after the murder but it tapered off. In 2006, they revived the file and authorized numerous undercover operators to attempt to infiltrate the family.
In summer 2011, they targeted his half-brother, who boasted that his brother was on America's Most Wanted for killing his "fiancee."
He also unknowingly talked to an undercover agent about getting Singh an operation that would alter the man's fingerprints.
In 1998, Singh had been arrested while working briefly as a gas station attendant for threatening a customer with a gun. That put his fingerprints on file.
While living in the U.S., Singh's appearance changed dramatically. His weight ballooned to 300 pounds, he grew a large, bushy beard and began wearing a turban.
Information from the half-brother led police to a telephone number at a home in Riverside County, Calif.
On pretence, one officer pulled him over as he drove a truck for work and obtained a thumbprint.
Speedy analysis showed a match, leading officers to pull him over in a car driven by his young wife, with their two babies in tow.
They found thousands of dollars in cash, four social security documents and her citizenship papers in a child's diaper bag.
At first asked him name by police, he gave his fake identity. But eventually he said his real name.
"She was seeing two other guys," he told the officer when asked if he knew he was wanted for murder of Randhawa in Canada.
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