×
×
homepage logo

‘I just want my daddy back’: Daughter speaks at sentencing of Satnam Singh’s killer

By Mark Shenefelt - | Nov 23, 2021

Image supplied, Ogden Police Department

In this screenshot from security video, a suspect in the shooting death of Satnam Singh, 65, of Ogden, is seen Sunday, Feb. 28, 2021.

OGDEN — A teenage daughter of Ogden grocer Satnam Singh asked a judge to send her father’s killer to life in prison, saying, “This pain is never going to go away.”

“I just want my daddy back,” the girl said during 16-year-old Antonio Gianny Garcia’s sentencing Tuesday morning. She said Garcia deserves “life in prison and he should never see sunlight.”

Charging documents said Garcia, 15 at the time, entered Super Grocery late the night of Feb. 28, pointed a gun at Singh, 65, and said “This is a stickup.” Singh moved away from the counter and Garcia fired four shots, hitting Singh three times.

Second District Judge Jennifer Valencia explained that state law prohibits life in prison without parole for juveniles and that Garcia pleaded guilty not to aggravated murder as originally charged but to felony illegal discharge of a firearm and aggravated robbery, both first-degree felonies.

Valencia in large part accepted a plea deal between Deputy Weber County Attorney Letitia Toombs and defense attorney Ron Nichols and agreed upon by Singh’s family. Under the sentence, Garcia will be held in the juvenile justice system until he turns 21 and then will receive an initial parole hearing before the Utah Board of Pardons and Parole. He could be paroled or spend more years in prison.

Photo supplied

Satnam Singh is pictured in an undated photo with his youngest daughter, who family asked not be named. Singh was shot and killed on Feb. 28, 2021, while tending to this Ogden convenience store, prompting a strong outpouring of support from the public.

But Valencia did order that the two sentences of five years to life be served consecutively rather than concurrently. The judge and the attorneys said that if Garcia remains on his best behavior, he may get a good parole date and not serve a long time in prison.

Toombs said she and all involved agreed to the plea bargain because, under the alternative, if Garcia pleaded guilty to aggravated murder, the penalty would have been 40 years to life. Such a sentence would not best serve the community and would give Garcia little chance to make amends and fix his life, she said.

Singh’s daughter said her father’s death was “the worst thing. We were best friends and he was the person I loved best in the whole world. He made me feel so loved and protected.”

She said she had just received her learner’s permit and they were excited that he would be teaching her to drive. “This pain is never going to go away,” she said. “We have a deep hole in our hearts.”

Heidi Nestel, a victims’ rights attorney who has worked with Singh’s family, spoke about Singh’s value to his family and the community. The immigrant from India was beloved by his customers and neighbors and was working that night because he picked up a shift of one of his employees.

TIM VANDENACK, Standard-Examiner

The exterior of Super Grocery in Ogden is pictured Wednesday, March 3, 2021. Satnam Singh, the store owner, was shot and killed on Sunday, Feb. 28, 2021, prompting a strong outpouring from customers who recalled his friendly demeanor. Many placed candles, balloons and other items to memorialize him.

“It’s impossible to summarize the incredible life of this fine man,” Nestel said. “He was known for helping people in need. He offered advice. He cared about their lives.”

She described the impact of his loss on his three daughters and added that his wife “has struggled the most.” Nestel said Singh’s widow says it’s “hard to breathe every day.” Nestel quoted Singh’s widow as saying, “He was the glue to my family. I have lost everything. I want justice. I do not want this kid on the street ever.”

Toombs said there was “no question” that the killing was aggravated murder, but she said the plea agreement encompasses “the hope that Mr. Garcia will take this opportunity and not make the life of Satnam Singh a waste.”

The prosecutor objected to Nichols’ comment that Garcia “turned himself in” and cooperated fully with authorities. She said Garcia’s mother called police.

According to a court document outlining the guilty plea, Garcia told police that when Singh moved away from the counter, he thought Singh was going for a gun or other weapon and he “acted on instinct” and fired. He said he thought “it would be me or him,” so he fired. He said he fled the store and did not realize his shots hit Singh.

Garcia told officers he bought the gun but would not identify the seller. Federal prosecutors later charged Taydon Law, 21, of Kaysville, in connection with the case. He is awaiting trial on charges of possessing a gun that had been reported stolen in Park City.

Nichols told the court Garcia’s upbringing was dysfunctional, his father deported when he was young and his mother having a series of boyfriends, one of whom abused him. “He turned out to be the parent in the household,” Nichols said.

Nestel pointed out that Garcia consumed marijuana and alcohol and that on the day of the killing he was on amphetamines. “There is nothing in Garcia’s life that explains or justifies this callous taking of a human life,” Nestel said. “It was a greedy, selfish, depraved disregard for human life.”

“I am sorry for all the pain and suffering I have caused,” Garcia said. “My intentions were not good (but) I never planned on taking the life of a good man.” He said he appreciated an eventual chance to get out on parole “to prove that I can change.”

Newsletter

Join thousands already receiving our daily newsletter.

I'm interested in (please check all that apply)