Auburn man guilty of strangling wife awaits sentencing

A jury last month found Paramjit Singh Basra guilty of first-degree murder for the 2009 death of his wife, Harjinder, in Auburn.

Judge Brian Gain presided over the trial at the Norm Maleng Regional Justice Center in Kent. Basra, 53, could spend 20 to 26 years in prison. He will be sentenced at 9 a.m., April 20 at 9 a.m. before Gain.

Basra had been set to stand trial for the second-degree murder of his 39-year-old wife, but prosecutors had reserved the alternative of charging him with premeditated first-degree murder if they could show intent at trial.

According to papers in King County Superior Court, Auburn police arrested Basra on July 27, 2009, after his hysterical daughter called 911 to report that her father had attacked her mother and was trying to kill her.

According to charging papers, the girl called 911 again and told the operator that her father, a truck driver, had just returned to the family home in the 29500 block of 125th Avenue Southeast, pushed his hands up against his wife's throat and killed her. The girl said that one point her father had tried to kill her, too, but that she had locked herself in the master bathroom only a few feet away from where her mother was lying.

When officers arrived at the home, court papers say, they found the front door slightly ajar and Basra looking out at them. He closed and locked the door. An officer knocked, told him to come out, and he finally did.

As the officer placed handcuffs on Basra, he said in broken English, "Ahh ... ahh ... the problem is, I killed my wife. She's in the room to the right." According to the report, Basra appeared "very calm" as he made this admission.

Police found Harjinder Basra lying on the floor by the foot of the bed in the upstairs master bedroom, warm, but unconscious. She had no pulse. Medics restored a pulse and then rushed her to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle.

When police tried to question Mr. Basra, he asked for an attorney and the interrogation stopped. On the way to the patrol car, court papers say, he said that he had "family problems," "I killed my wife," and "she has problems with men, so I killed her."

Police later searched the Basra home and found no signs of a struggle, although they did see a car charger cord for a cell phone lying on the bed.

Harjinder Basra was declared brain dead on July 30, 2009. The King County Medical Examiner's Office determined her death was "homicide due to asphyxiation caused by ligature strangulation."

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