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A California man accused of murdering four family members, including an 8-month-old infant earlier this month has pleaded not guilty.
Salgado is charged with four counts of murder in the deaths of Jasleen Kaur, 27, her husband, Jasdeep Singh, 36, their 8-month old child, Aroohi Dheri, and Singh’s brother, Amandeep Singh, 39. Their bodies were found by a farmer in an almond orchard near Dos Palos, California on Oct. 5, two days after surveillance footage captured Salgado abducting the family at gunpoint from their trucking business in Merced, California.
The family had been reported missing after Amandeep Singh’s Dodge Ram pickup truck was found on fire by California Highway Patrol troopers in Winton. Salgado was ultimately arrested after one of the victim’s bank cards was used at an ATM in Atwater, California.
At Salgado’s arraignment on Thursday, a judge appointed him a public defender. Special circumstances enhancements have been added to the four counts of first-degree murder. He’s also facing arson, discharging a firearm in commission of a crime, and felon in possession of a firearm charges.
“There’s some things you’ll take to the grave,” Merced County Sheriff Ver Warnke stated after the discovery of the family's remains was made. “This, to me, was pure evil.”
According to family members, Salgado was once employed by the Singh’s trucking business, Unison Trucking.
Authorities have speculated the chain of killings may have been financially motivated.
“We kind of figured that that’s what the motive is right now until we prove otherwise,” Warnke also told reporters at an earlier press conference on Oct. 5.
Officials said Salgado has a previous conviction for robbery, dating back to 2005. The 48-year-old was ultimately sentenced to prison and released on parole in 2015. In that case, Salgado held a different family at gunpoint inside their home, according to The Los Angeles Times. He emptied the family’s safe of cash and jewelry but was arrested days later after the family identified him. That California family, who also owned a trucking business, once employed Salgado before firing him in 2004 when they suspected him of stealing.
Salgado’s brother, Alberto Salgado, was also arrested on Oct. 6 in connection with the quadruple slaying. He was charged with felony counts of arson, accessory after the fact, and conspiracy. Authorities suspect he assisted his brother in the kidnapping.
Loved ones, who attended Thursday’s trial proceedings, are planning a funeral for the family on Saturday. The funeral will be closed to the public. A GoFundMe has been set up by relatives to help support surviving members of the family, including Amandeep Singh’s wife and two children, as well as Jasdeep and Amandeep Singh’s parents.
“This is a peace-loving family and running a small business in the Merced area,” family member Balwinder Saini told the Fresno Bee prior to learning his relatives had been murdered. "We have been living in this area for a long time. We are devastated, we are shocked, we are dying every moment.”
Jesus Salgado and Alberto Salgado are being held without bail at a Merced County detention center without bond, according to online jail records obtained by Oxygen.com. Jesus Salgado is set to appear in court again on Dec. 15. Attorney information wasn’t immediately available for him.
It’s unclear if his brother, Alberto Salgado, has entered a plea on his behalf. He also appeared in court on Thursday. His next court date is scheduled for Oct. 20.
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