An Indian origin woman, Shamdai Arjun, was found guilty by a jury in Queens, New York on Monday of murdering her nine-year-old stepdaughter in 2016. The 55-year-old strangled the child to death and left her naked body in a bathtub, and had been charged with second degree murder for the crime.
Shamdai Arjun had been living with her husband Sukhjinder Singh at their Richmond Hill home for only a few months before she committed the murder. The child, Ashdeep Kaur, had arrived in the US to be with her father just three months before she met this cruel end.
According to reports, the jury took less than an hour to convict Shamdai before Supreme Court Justice Kenneth Holder. Her sentencing is on June 3. She faces a sentence of up to 25 years in jail.
“This is a horrifying case of a defenseless nine-year-old child, who was to be cared for by her stepmother but was instead strangled to death by her. Her actions are truly incomprehensible and deserve the maximum punishment allowed under the law,” John Ryan, the acting Queens District Attorney, said.
The case, according to a trial testimony, states that on August 19, 2016, around 5.30 pm in the evening, a witness saw Shamdai leaving the house with her ex-husband Raymond Narayan along with her two grandchildren who are three and five years old respectively. When the witness asked Shamdai where Ashdeep was, Shamdai said that she was waiting for her father to pick her up.
The witness added that the bathroom light had been on for at least 2.5 hours before the interaction with Shamdai. The witness then called Ashdeep’s father, who told her to knock down the bathroom door. The witness did so and found Ashdeep’s lifeless body in the bathtub.
According to the medical examiner, the cause for Ashdeep’s death was manual strangulation.
Apart from Shamdai, her ex-husband, 65-year-old Raymond Narayan, was also charged with obstructing police after Shamdai was arrested. He had driven Shamdai and her grandchildren to his own home after the crime was committed. When the police arrived to arrest them, the couple refused to leave for more than an hour, before relenting and opening their door.
In 2016, Queens Assistant District Attorney Michael Curtis had revealed that Shamdai had, on multiple occasions, threatened to kill her stepdaughter. According to relatives of Ashdeep, the child had been abused by Shamdai in the past.