One of the men charged in the murder of SFU Surrey student Maple Batalia – Gurjinder (Gary) Dhaliwal – will be pleading not guilty, his lawyer said.
On Monday morning, Dhaliwal and the second man charged in the case – Gursimar Singh Bedi – appeared in Surrey Provincial Court.
On Sept. 28, 2011, 19-year-old Maple Batalia was gunned down
on the third floor of the Central City parkade, beside Simon Fraser University, following a late-night study session.
She had been studying with friends and left for the parkade just before 1 a.m. when she was shot multiple times in what police believe was a targeted attack.
She died later in hospital.
At a press conference Saturday night, police announced that Maple's ex-boyfriend Dhaliwal, 20, and "associate," 22-year-old Bedi, have been charged with her murder.
Dhaliwal has been charged with first-degree murder, while Bedi has been charged with manslaughter with a firearm and accessory after the fact.
"Although we can't bring Maple back, we're happy to see that those (allegedly) responsible for this are now going to suffer the consequences," said Maple's sister Roseleen, who spoke on behalf of the family at a news conference Saturday night. "We're just hoping Maple will finally be at peace."
Batalia, an aspiring actress and model who was finalist in the 2011 Central City Model Search, was planning to go to medical school.
At a candlelight vigil in Holland Park two days after her murder, Batalia's parents were overcome with grief.
"This wonderful child, a jewel of mine, has been snatched away forever," said Maple's father Harkirat Batalia, who called his daughter his little Tweetie Bird.
"My charming little sweet child, I'll miss you. May God take you in heaven and keep you there... and please God help me in this moment."
Batalia's mother expressed similar depth of despair earlier in the day.
Photo: Sarabjit Batalia
"My life is finished," Sarabjit Batalia told The Leader. "What is my life without her? She was the star in our life and our whole family."
In December of last year, the Integrated Homicide Investigation Team (IHIT) seized
a white 2011 Dodge Charger that was seen leaving the scene of the murder. IHIT has had more than 50 officers working on the case.
On Friday night, police arrested the two men - Dhaliwal in Burnaby and Bedi in Surrey- and took them into custody.
Details of the arrest and investigation were scant Saturday night in order to protect the integrity of the upcoming trial.
The two men remain in custody and are scheduled to appear in Surrey Provincial Court again by video link on Dec. 17.