stangled stepdaughter shamdai

Shamdai Arjun (center) faces up to 25 years to life in prison after a jury found her guilty of murdering 9-year-old Ashdeep Kaur. (screen grab of WABC-TV)

NEW YORK — A 55-year-old Indian American stepmother has been convicted in the 2016 death of her child, who was found strangled in the bathtub of her New York City home, according to an AP report.

Prosecutors said May 13 that Shamdai Arjun faces up to 25 years to life in prison after a jury on May 10 found her guilty of murdering 9-year-old Ashdeep Kaur in 2016.

During the trial, prosecutors say an eyewitness observed Arjun and her ex-husband leaving the Queens home with two grandchildren. The eyewitness asked about the stepdaughter and was told she was in the bathroom.

Prosecutors say the eyewitness called the victim’s father who told her to break down the bathroom door. She did and found the girl strangled in the bathtub.

According to an IANS report, it took a jury less an hour to convict the woman; she will be sentenced on June 3. 

Young Kaur had moved from India to be in the care of her father, Sukhjinder Singh, and his wife in 2016. Family members said the girl told them about past abuse at the hands of her stepmother.

"This is a horrifying case of a defenseless 9-year-old child, who was to be cared for by her stepmother but was instead strangled to death by her," said Acting Queens District Attorney John M. Ryan May 13, according to a CBSNewYork report.

"Her actions are truly incomprehensible and deserve the maximum punishment allowed under the law."

According to trial testimony, Arjun left her home in the Richmond Hill section of Queens on Aug. 19, 2016 around 5:30 p.m. with her former husband and two grandchildren, ages 3 and 5.

Asked about the 9-year-old victim's whereabouts, she told an eyewitness that the child was in the bathroom and was waiting for her father to pick her up.

The eyewitness then called the girl's father, Sukhjinder Singh. Ashdeep's lifeless and bruised naked body was later found in the bathtub. 

The medical examiner's office determined that the cause of death was strangulation.

— With AP, IANS reports

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