The sentencing of an Elkhart man convicted of murder in connection with a double shooting at Saleh’s Market was postponed a second time.
Richard Gross, 23, pleaded guilty to two counts of felony murder in December for the deaths of Jagtar Bhatti, 55, and Pawan Singh, 20. Gross’s open plea deal means he could face up to 120 years in prison.
Gross indicated he was seeking private council prior to his first sentencing hearing, thus delaying the process. Then on Thursday, Elkhart County Circuit Court judge Terry Shewmaker denied Gross’ request to withdraw his guilty plea and postponed sentencing until May 1, 2014.
A second man, Kevin Moore, 29, also pleaded guilty but mentally ill to two counts of felony murder for the supermarket shooting. Moore faces up to 130 years in prison for both counts.
“I would like for it to have been over once they pleaded guilty,” said Saleh’s Market employee William Sinclair, “to me I thought it was a done deal once they said the trial was cancelled because, an hour before, Richard Gross decided to plead guilty and Moore had already pleaded guilty so I thought that was a done deal.”
For the past six months workers and neighbors have been adjusting to life after the shooting. Sinclair found the bodies of the deceased in the seconds after the shooting and said he misses both Bhatti and Singh.
According to Sinclair both Moore and Gross were regular customers at the market—often coming in multiple times a day to get cigars, soda and snacks.
The motive is still unknown; however Sinclair said he has an “inkling” that something wasn't right between Singh and Moore.
“They socialized, they shared music, shared conversation,” Sinclair explained that the night before the shooting Singh whispered for him to not speak with Moore. At the time he wasn't sure what he was talking about, and he still isn't completely sure.
What Sinclair does know is that Singh and Bhatti were “very generous” and good people.
Moore is scheduled to be sentenced in Elkhart County Circuit Court March 28, Gross is scheduled for May 1.