Woman who strangled 9-year-old stepdaughter to death because she was 'jealous' sentenced to 22 years in prison
A woman from Queens of Indian-origin who was previously convicted of murdering her nine-year-old stepdaughter will likely be spending the rest of her life behind bars. According to a press release by the Queens County District Attorney's Office, 58-year-old Shamdai Arjun, of 112th Street in the Richmond Hill section of Queens, was sentenced to 22 years in prison for the "heartless" 2016 murder of Ashdeep Kaur, the daughter of her then-husband Sukhjinder Singh.
During her trial, an eyewitness testified about how at around 5.30 pm on August 19, 2016, the day of the murder, they observed Shamdai exiting her family home in 112th Street and getting into a car with her former husband Raymond Narayan and her two grandchildren, aged three and five.
The eyewitness said that when they asked the 58-year-old about why the light in the bathroom had been switched on for so long, she responded by saying that her stepdaughter was in the bathroom taking a shower and was waiting for her father to pick her up. However, having noticed that the light had been on since at least 3 pm, the eyewitness called Sukhjinder to inform him of the situation and was instructed to break down the bathroom door.
When the eyewitness entered the bathroom, they said they saw the lifeless body of the little girl in the bathtub. She had immigrated to the country just three months prior so she could be reunited with her father and his new family.
In addition to being choked, she suffered blunt force trauma to her head and had a cut inside her mouth and a loose tooth. A report filed by the Medical Examiner's Office determined that the cause of death was manual strangulation.
NY Daily News reported that the 58-year-old was motivated by jealousy over the relationship Ashdeep shared with her father, including how the pair only communicated with one another in Punjabi, a language she did not know. The nine-year-old was also said to be wary of her stepmother and had complained to Sukhjinder about how she wouldn't feed her and had slapped her. Sources said, just three days before her death, she went to her father and claimed Shamdai had threatened to kill her.
While Shamdai was charged with second-degree murder, Narayan was charged with obstructing governmental administration for allegedly refusing to let police officers enter his apartment so they could to take his ex-wife into custody. Last month, a jury found Shamdai guilty of second-degree murder after deliberating for less than an hour. The status of Narayan's case is unclear.
Speaking after her sentencing this week, Queens District Attorney John Ryan said, "The defendant, in this case, goes beyond the tales of evil stepmothers. This defendant committed the unimaginable — she wrapped her hands around her stepdaughter's little neck and squeezed the life out of her."
"The victim was an innocent child and just nine years old," he continued. "The court has imposed a sentence that will likely guarantee this woman never sees freedom again. The sentence of the court is more than warranted in this tragic case."
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