'Jealous ex-boyfriend' pleads guilty in murder of Maple Batalia
Nearly five years after she was brutally gunned down in Surrey, B.C., a guilty plea has been entered in the murder of teenager Maple Batalia.
The Simon Fraser University student was killed in the parking lot of the Surrey campus in September 2011. The 19-year-old had been studying to become a doctor.
On Thursday, her ex-boyfriend, Gurjinder “Gary” Dhaliwal, entered a guilty plea of second-degree murder.
Crown lawyers say Dhaliwal was a “jealous ex-boyfriend” who became violent after she broke up with him. He sent her thousands of text messages.
“She was moving on and he did not want that for her. He became enraged when he saw her with another young man who happened to be a friend,” said prosecutor Wendy Stephen.
The court heard Thursday in an agreed statement of facts that Dhaliwal confronted his former girlfriend twice in the days before her death: Once at the Mirage nightclub, and again at a Tim Hortons on King George Highway.
Finally, he waited outside the campus for her in a rented Dodge Charger.
Batalia’s family wept in court as they heard how Gary fired five gunshots, three of which hit the teen in the torso.
He then slashed her on and behind her head with a knife he bought at the Guildford Town Centre in the days before her murder. The knife was left at the murder scene, but Dhaliwal left with the gun, the court heard.
“There’s no doubt he intended to shoot her. He did so at close range,” said Stephen.
Dhaliwal faces life in prison and both the Crown and defence are asking parole eligibility to be set at 21 years.
Stephen said she believes it is the highest sentence given to someone in B.C. who is convicted of killing a single person.
Even though Batalia’s ex was charged in 2012, the case has dragged its way through the court system, which has been devastating to the slain teen’s family.
Her family did not speak publicly today. Sgt. Stephanie Ashton of the Integrated Homicide Investigation Team said they are still trying to “take this all in,” but intend to give victim impact statements at the sentencing hearing.
“It will really be a chance for them to have their moment to talk about this case,” she told reporters.
Batalia’s parents have told CTV News they are planning a petition for court reform that would push similar cases though the system faster for the sake of the victims.
The campaign is being supported by former Surrey city councillor Barinder Rasode, a friend of the family’s who told CTV Vancouver the petition is currently being worked on by SFU professors and a lawyer.
Dhaliwal’s co-accused, Gursimar Singh Bedi, goes to trial next week for manslaughter and accessory after the fact.
With files from CTV Vancouver’s Nafeesa Karim
Crown: Dhaliwal shot Batalia after she broke up w/him. He sent her 1000's of texts. She was shot 3 times and stabbed pic.twitter.com/h9QLvabxZs— Nafeesa Karim (@nafeesakarim) March 3, 2016
Crown in Maple Batalia case on Dhaliwal guilty plea: this is "a very good day for the administration of justice" pic.twitter.com/3oNSfplQJl— Nafeesa Karim (@nafeesakarim) March 3, 2016