The California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) Parole Board has denied the early release of Joga Singh Sandher, the 58-year-old man who murdered Ajmer Singh Malhi inside a Sikh temple in 2000.
The Board of Parole denied Sandher’s early parole at Thursday’s Parole Suitability Hearing after finding that if he were to be released, the “danger he posed to the community was far higher” than the information he presented claiming he was not a risk. The Contra Costa District Attorney’s Office said in a statement on Friday that Sandher had become ineligible for parole for 10 years.
Sandher was convicted and sentenced to life in prison for the murder of Malhi during a Sunday service inside the El Sobrante Gurdwara Sahib, a Sikh center in the San Francisco Bay Area, on Jan. 23, 2000.
Equipped with an M-16 assault rifle, Sandher chased after Malhi inside the Sikh center after screaming, “I will kill you all.” He eventually caught up to him and shot and killed the married father-of-three in front of the congregation, the court heard in Nov. 2001.
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“Even in a world where mass shootings have become all too commonplace, Sandher’s actions in January 2000 still shock the conscience,” Deputy District Attorney Caleb Webster said Thursday.
“His spiteful, brazen killing did irreparable harm not only to those who knew and loved Mr. Malhi, but to the entire Sikh community. The panel’s well-considered finding of unsuitability ensures Sandher continues to serve the fair sentence that was imposed, which promotes community safety and builds public trust.”
At the time, Sandher said he was upset at the victim because he prevented him from addressing the congregation.
The Thursday ruling was the second time Sandher has been denied freedom due to public safety concerns. Contra Costa Superior Court Judge Joni T. Hiramoto denied lowering his sentencing in August after reviewing the CDCR reports, the testimony of a mental health expert and supporters’ statements.