Man linked to murder of B.C. teen set free on statutory release
Published Saturday, February 3, 2018 3:19PM EST
Last Updated Sunday, February 4, 2018 11:38AM EST
A B.C. family is outraged after a man found guilty of being an accessory in the murder of a 19-year-old university student was released from prison six months early under the province’s statutory release law.
On Jan. 27, 2017, Gursimar Bedi received a 22-month sentence, minus time already served, for his role in the 2011 slaying of Maple Batalia, who was an aspiring model and actress. That credit for time served ultimately reduced his sentence to 18 months.
Bedi, who was friends with Batalia’s killer, Gurjinder Dhaliwal, rented the getaway vehicle that was used after Batalia was shot three times and slashed in the head with a knife.
Described by Crown lawyers as a “jealous ex-boyfriend,” Dhaliwal was sentenced to life in prison with no chance of parole for 21 years in March 2016 after pleading guilty to second-degree murder. Although Bedi’s prison term worked out to being 18 months, he was released less than a year after being sentenced.
Lawyer David Albert, who represented Dhaliwal at the beginning of the trial, says it’s standard to release someone after they’ve served two-thirds of a sentence.
“That would be his statutory release,” Albert said. “The legislation is such that he is mandatorily released after serving two-thirds of his sentence.”
Bedi has served 12 months, or two-thirds, of his 18-month sentence.
“In most cases, offenders sentenced to a federal correctional centre are automatically released from custody to serve the last third of their sentence in the community,” the provincial government’s criminal justice website says.
Batalia’s family learned of Bedi’s release a week ago in an email from B.C.’s Victim Services. That email was sent the same day as his release. The family has until Feb. 9 to object to the release. After that, the case will be closed.
In an interview with CTV Vancouver, the victim’s sister expressed her family’s anger.
“She was innocent,” Rose Batalia said via Skype from California. “(Bedi) did not even know her, had nothing to do with her, and he was the last voice of reason that could have prevented this cold-blooded murder from happening. He was Mr. Dhaliwal’s best friend. If someone was a great person, they would have talked their friend out of doing something this stupid.”
Bedi’s lawyer said his client is not under probation and wants to move on with his life.
Dhaliwal remains in prison with no chance of parole until 2037.
With files from CTV Vancouver