A Maricopa County Superior Court jury on Monday returned a first-degree murder verdict against a jilted husband who killed his Ahwatukee wife 12 years ago during a fight.
Avtar Grewal, 44, faces a sentence of life with no parole after he was convicted in the killing of Navneet Kaur, 30, on March 29, 2007, at her home in the 4200 block of East Redwood Lane.
Grewal never denied killing the victim after she asked for a divorce, but said it was a crime of passion and not the premeditated slaying that the prosecution had alleged.
Grewal was arrested two days after the killing at Indira Gandhi International Airport in New Delhi.
Kaur was strangled before her head was placed under water in a bathtub, according to court records.
The couple had a long-distance relationship, with Grewal living in Vancouver, B.C., Canada, and Kaur living in her home in Ahwatukee. Kaur had retained ownership of the house after a divorce settlement with her previous husband, the court records said.
Grewal would fly into Phoenix and visit Kaur, but the two “never lived together for any significant period of time,” prosecutors said in court papers.
“He flew to Phoenix the next day and killed Ms. Kaur. Immediately after the murder, the defendant took a flight from Phoenix to Newark, N.J. He then purchased a one-way ticket to India and fled the U.S,’’ the prosecution document said.
Prosecutor Juan Martinez said during opening arguments that Kaur’s murder was intentional and described how Grewal was a controlling husband who called the victim repeatedly.
He said Grewal dragged Kaur’s body from another room to the bathroom, leaving a trail of blood. Her head was found under water in the bathtub.
Grewal’s lawyer said after the victim asked for a divorced, “they started slapping each other. They lost themselves in that moment. He didn’t plan this, he didn’t will this to happen.’’
The case was delayed by several factors, including a long extradition fight that ended when India turned Grewal over to the FBI on Sept. 13, 2011, after he had spent more than four years at a jail in his native country.
Counting his incarceration in India and the U.S, Grewal has already spent the 12 years in jail since the killing.