Cop killer avoids death penalty by taking plea deal in the murder of Corporal Ronil Singh

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NEWMAN, CA – It was the day after Christmas in 2018 when 33-year-old Newman Police Corporal Ronil Singh never came home to his family. His murderer, Gustavo Perez Arriaga, has now pleaded guilty to killing the officer.

Reports indicate that this cop killer has avoided the death penalty because of a plea bargain. 

Police had caught up to Perez Arriaga back in December 2018 and arrested him following a 50-hour manhunt.

Flash-forward to November 2020, and Perez Arriaga entered a plea deal that admitted he murdered Corporal Singh and discharged his illegally possessed firearm in the commission of murder. 

By entering said plea deal, Perez Arriaga will not receive the death penalty and will instead be issued a life sentence without the possibility of parole.

Perez Arriaga also agreed via the plea deal to never appeal the case. 

During the recent court hearing, Officer Singh’s widow, Anamika Singh-Chand, spoke about how she is going to see that empty chair at her dining table every night: 

“I’m never going to see him come home. He’s never going to hold his child. I’m always going to have that empty chair at my dinner table.”

Anamika spoke of how her worst fears came to life the day she was informed of her husband’s death, a scenario she said her husband had prepared her for: 

“Because Ron had prepared me all my life for that day, if ever police came to the door, ‘just know I’m critically injured or I’m no more.’”

The still-grieving widow spoke about how her husband loved having achieved the “American dream” of being a cop, and how their “lives were perfect” until that horrible day after Christmas in 2018: 

“He loved his American dream of becoming a police officer. He was passionate and proud of his job.

Our lives were perfect until the late hours of Dec. 26, 2018, when a police corporal, a husband, a father, a son was brutally murdered for fulfilling responsibilities of protecting and serving his community.”

Three fellow officers were able to speak during the sentencing. Newman Police Chief Randy Richardson said: 

“Because we are a small department, we are like a family at the Newman Police Department, so (we) just wanted to let the suspect know that his actions actually tore up the whole community. It was difficult for the entire community of Newman.”

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Round-up: 8 arrests made in death of Corporal Ronil Singh

December 29, 2018

STANISLAUS COUNTY, CA – There has been a round-up in California. Authorities said they’d taken two more people into custody in connection with the shooting death of Newman Police Corporal Ronil Singh.

This brings the total number of suspects arrested to eight.

The pair were identified as a girlfriend and brother of the suspected gunman.

Investigators also may have recovered the murder weapon, the Sacramento Bee reported.

Previously Friday, authorities said they’d arrested the illegal immigrant fugitive whom they believe gunned down the California law officer early Wednesday. That suspect was identified as Gustavo Perez Arriaga, 32. He was captured in Lamont, near Bakersfield, which is about 200 miles south of Newman, where Singh was slain. He had been on his way to his native Mexico, authorities believe.

“We were never more than a step behind this guy,” Stanislaus County Sheriff Adam Christianson said of the two-day manhunt for Arriaga. Authorities said Arriaga will be charged with murder in the death of Singh, a seven-year veteran of the Newman Police Department.

Thereafter, authorities announced the arrests of Arriaga’s girlfriend, Ana Leyde Cervantes, 30, of Newman, and Arriaga’s brother, Conrado Virgen Mendoza, 34, of Chowchilla.

Cervantes was apprehended in Turlock, and Mendoza in Livermore, according to the Stanislaus County Sheriff’s Department.

Both suspects were arrested on suspicion of aiding and abetting Arriaga, authorities said. However, their specific actions were undisclosed.

Sgt. Tom Letras, a spokesman for the sheriff’s department, told the Bee that investigators recovered a handgun that may have been used in the shooting. Nevertheless, additional details were not provided.

Before the fatal shooting, Corporal Singh had conducted a traffic stop of Arriaga’s vehicle for a DUI investigation. Soon after a gunfight broke out and Singh fired back to try to defend himself, Christianson said.

As a result, the suspect then fled when backup officers arrived to assist Singh, who died at a hospital from gunshot wounds.

Christianson, whose department has been handling the case, told reporters at a news conference that Arriaga was in the U.S. illegally after previously crossing in through the Arizona border. It wasn’t clear when the entry occurred.

Authorities said they’ve also arrested Arriaga’s other brother, Adrian Virgen, 25, and co-worker Erik Razo Quiroz, 27, accusing them of attempting to mislead investigators in the search for the suspect, according to Christianson.

They were arrested for being accessories after the fact to a felony, the sheriff’s office said in Facebook post.

Moreover, both men were in the country illegally, Christianson said.

corporal
Conrado Virgen Mendoza, 34, upper left, of Chowchilla, and Ana Leyde Cervantes, 30, upper right, of Newman, were arrested Friday in connection with the death of a Newman police corporal. Gustavo Perez Arriaga’s other brother Adrian Virgen, lower left, 25, and co-worker Erik Razo Quiroz, lower right, 27, were arrested after officials said they had attempted to mislead investigators in an effort to protect the suspect. (Stanislaus County Sherriff’s Department)

Additionally, three people from Bakersfield were arrested.

They were identified as Bernabe Madrigal Casteneda, 59; Ermasmo Villegas, 36; and Maria Luisa Moreno, 57, each charged on suspicion of aiding and abetting, the Modesto Bee reported.

Kern County Sheriff Donny Youngblood told reporters at a news conference that he’d been notified that the suspect was somewhere between Modesto and Bakersfield. Consequently, the accused cop killer was thought to be heading toward Mexico.

Surveillance teams set up in different communities, and authorities were able to obtain a search warrant for the residence where the suspect was located, Youngblood said. As a SWAT team moved in, the suspect came out with his hands up and surrendered, he added.

“When you use a firearm against a police officer, you can run but you can’t hide,” Youngblood said.

Carrying on a police tradition, Cpl. Singh’s handcuffs were later used on the suspect, according to the sheriff.

“For a suspect to take an officer’s life over a driving-under-the-influence, doesn’t make any logical sense to me, nor anyone else,” Youngblood said. “But no traffic stop and no contact in today’s world is run of the mill.”

The Stanislaus Sworn Deputies Association has established a memorial fund in Singh’s honor.

Singh was an immigrant, too, arriving legally from his native Fiji to fulfill his dream of becoming a police officer, authorities said. Singh joined the small 12-officer Newman Department in July 2011.

He is survived by his wife and a 5-month-old son.

Newman Police Chief Randy Richardson called Singh a patriot.

“This is a man that loved his country. This is a man that worked hard for what he believed in. He believed in this community,” the chief said at a community vigil Friday night honoring the officer.

Residents, friends, relatives and fellow officers held back tears as they eulogized Singh during the candlelight memorial.

 

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