Wife of slain Edmonton gas station owner testifies on Day 2 of manslaughter trial

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The wife of an Edmonton gas station owner who died following an altercation with a customer took the stand on the second day of the accused’s manslaughter trial Tuesday.

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Sanghya Singh’s husband Surinder Pal Singh, 61, died in hospital on Oct. 28, 2015, after suffering a head injury following an argument with a customer at their Husky station.

The customer, Douglas Chestnut, was charged with manslaughter in 2016. His trial before Justice Nathan Whitling began Monday. Chestnut has pleaded not guilty.

Sanghya Singh, 66, said her family bought the Husky Station at 7507 50 Street in 2014. On Oct. 23, 2015, they were celebrating their opening and were giving away free drinks, hotdogs and samosas. She and Surinder have three sons, all in their 30s.

That afternoon, Sanghya Singh heard a beep at her computer terminal indicating a customer had not paid for gas. Surinder approached the customer, Chestnut, about the allegedly unpaid bill.

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“My husband was upset because the customer was very angry and loud,” she told court. 

She said she tried to ease tensions as the men argued.

“He (the customer) was saying that he has paid, and I remember I asked him if he would just wait, I’d print out the receipt, and finish the transaction.”

“He didn’t want to wait. He said, ‘I have to go,’ then left.”

As Surinder and the man left the store, “I saw the guy’s punch coming toward my husband and my husband drop,” she said.

Surinder Pal Singh, 61, died in October 2015 after suffering a head wound during an altercation with a customer. He fell to the ground after being struck by Douglas Chestnut, a manslaughter trial heard Tuesday.
Surinder Pal Singh, 61, died in October 2015 after suffering a head wound during an altercation with a customer. He fell to the ground after being struck by Douglas Chestnut, a manslaughter trial heard Tuesday.

Lorne Scott, a customer in the store at the time, said he heard the two men arguing about the value of some merchandise, including a bottle of juice. He said the younger man was swearing as he left the store, followed by Surinder, who grabbed him by the shoulder.

“The younger fellow turned around and cracked him (Surinder), gave him a shot in the mouth, face,” Scott said. 

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“He fell right backwards. Straight. Just flopped. He hit the ground pretty hard.”

Scott said the store owner looked dazed but not unconscious as he lay on the ground. Chestnut appeared “shocked or surprised.”

During cross-examination, Scott said he may have heard Chestnut offering leave his licence plate number and come back to pay later.

Chestnut’s trial is scheduled to last five days.

Singh was one of three convenience store employees killed in Edmonton in late 2015.

The other two, Karanpal Singh Bhangu and Ricky Cenabre, were shot and killed while working at two separate Mac’s convenience stores on Dec. 18, 2015. Their killers — Laylin Delorme and Colton Steinhauer — were convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced to life in prison with no parole for at least 25 years.

In 2017, the owner of a Fas Gas station in Thorsby, Ki Yun Jo, was killed trying to stop a van whose driver had not paid for gas.

jwakefield@postmedia.com

twitter.com/jonnywakefield

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