Jagjeet Singh: Jessica Ann Copey, unnamed infant — 1-19-2021

  • Suspect: Jagjeet Singh
  • Victim: Jessica Ann Copey, 24
  • Victim: Unnamed infant
  • Date of incident: Jan. 19, 2021
  • Charges: One count of leaving the scene of an accident resulting in great bodily injury or death, one count of possession of a controlled substance: heroin, one count of possession of a controlled substance: methamphetamine and one count of possession of drug paraphernalia; an additional count of leaving the scene of an accident resulting in great bodily injury or death was dismissed by a judge in magistrate court.
  • Status: Bound over to district court
  • Investigating Agency: State Police
  • Investigator: Larry Reuter
  • Incident Location: Interstate 40 near mile marker 15, west of Gallup
  • Judicial District: 11th Judicial District
  • Prosecuting agency:  11th Judicial District Attorney’s Office, Div. II
  • Prosecutor: Martin Bernadine
  • Defense attorney: David Serna
  • Magistrate case number: M-35-FR-2021-0021
  • Magistrate Judge: Pat Casados
  • District Case number: D-1113-CR-2021-00017
  • District judge: Robert Aragon

Summary

On Jan. 19, 2021, truck driver Jagjeet Singh, 24, of Indianapolis, allegedly ran over Jessica Ann Copey, 24, of Tohlakai, and her infant who was in a car seat, as she walked on I-40, then parked at a truck stop until police arrested him the next day.

Although an investigators wrote that Singh waived his Miranda rights and admitted to running over someone, he has also requested an interpreter in court proceedings and there is no indication that an interpreter read him his rights. Miranda rights are supposed to be knowingly and intelligently waived.

Magistrate Judge Virginia Yazzie released him on an unsecured $100,000 bond following his first appearance on Jan. 21, 2021. Magistrate Judge Pat Casados dismissed one charge of knowingly leaving the scene of a crash and bound him over to district court following a preliminary examination on March 3, 2021.

He was arraigned in district court virtually on April 26, 2021, and pleaded not guilty to all the charges through a Punjabi interpreter.

The incident

On Jan. 19, 2021, around 9:30 p.m., the McKinley County Sheriff’s Office received a call about a woman walking east on Interstate 40, around mile marker 15, west of Gallup. A “short time later,” a State Police officer driving that way saw a large object, a shoe and debris from a vehicle in the road and in the median. A deputy then arrived and they both discovered, in the median, the body of Jessica Ann Copey, 24, of Tohlakai and her infant, also dead, in a car seat, State Police Officer Dusty Francisco wrote in a press release.

Mug shot of Jagjeet Singh in case M-35-FR-2021-0021
Jagjeet Singh

Investigators “learned” that Copey was carrying her child in the car seat while walking in the left lane of I-40 when he was hit by a tractor-trailer, who did not stop. An attempt to locate the driver was broadcast to state and local law enforcement agencies. On Jan. 20, 2021, a day later, a McKinley County Sheriff’s deputy located a tractor-trailer with heavy front-end damage parked at the Flying J’s Truck Stop nears Jamestown, Francisco wrote.

In an amended statement of probable cause for Jagjeet Singh’s arrest, State Police Agent Larry Reuter wrote that state police officers recovered a blue bumper and a headlight where Copey and the child were killed. Singh, 24, is from Indianapolis, Indiana.

Reuter wrote that State Police arrives “arrived” at the truck stop and saw Singh’s vehicle, which was missing the bumper and headlight, which matched those found on the interstate. Jagjeet Singh and his passenger, Gurcharan Singh, were “detained” and brought to the State Police office in Gallup.

Gurcharan Singh told Reuter that he received a call from Jagjeet Singh at 12:10 a.m., Jan. 20, that he hit a deer and he needed help to replace his headlight. Gurcharan Singh was headed west on I-40 and stopped at the gas station, Reuter wrote.

“Gurcharan told me he was not told anything about Jagjeet hitting a person,” Reuter wrote.

Reuter wrote that he then interrogated Jagjeet Singh, after reading him his Miranda rights. Reuter made no mention of reading him his Miranda rights in any language other than English or that Jagjeet Singh had, or did not have, trouble understanding him.

In court documents, Jagjeet Singh indicated he needs a Punjabi interpreter. Miranda rights are supposed to be knowingly and intelligently waived.

Jagjeet Singh allegedly told Reuter he knew he hit someone who had long, white hair, Reuter wrote.

“Jagjeet confirmed he had observed the person walking from North side of the median and walking Southbound across the highway,” Reuter wrote. “Jagjeet told me he took the exit at mile marker 16, stopped and looked in his mirror but could not see anyone in his mirror. Jagjeet never called the police and did not stop to look for the person he hit.”

Jagjeet Singh allegedly told Reuter he called his cousin who asked why someone would be walking in the road and suggested he hit an animal instead. He drove to the truck stop, where he stayed until he was arrested, Reuter wrote. The cousin is not identified in court documents.

“Jagjeet drew a diagram of where his CVE was positioned when he struck the female,” Reuter wrote. “Jagjeet could not give an answer why he did not call the police or attempt to render aid to the victims he hit.”

When agents searched Jagjeet Singh’s tractor-trailer, they found two bags of a brown powder-like substance weighing 34.8 grams and a white crystalline substance weighing 5.6 grams. The drugs were tested, and came back as heroin and methamphetamine although Reuter did not write what kind of test was conducted, by whom or the presumed accuracy.

Field drug tests “routinely” show false-positive results, according to ProPublica.

Magistrate Judge Virginia Yazzie initially released Jagjeet Singh on a $100,000 unsecured bond at his first appearance on Jan. 21, 2021. He is set to be arraigned on the amended criminal complaint, which added the drug charges, on Feb. 2, 2021, in front of Magistrate Judge Pat Casados. An interpreter is scheduled for that hearing, according to the docket.

Bound over to district court

On March 4, 2021, following a preliminary hearing, Casados bound over Jagjeet Singh on one count each of leaving the scene of an accident resulting in great bodily injury or death, possession of a controlled substance: heroin, possession of a controlled substance: methamphetamine and possession of drug paraphernalia.

Casados dismissed one count of leaving the scene of an accident resulting in great bodily injury or death, according to her order.

District court arraignment

On March 22, prosecutors filed a criminal complaint against Singh in Gallup District Court, after Casados bound him over.

He was arraigned virtually on April 26, 2021, and pleaded not guilty to all the charges through a Punjabi interpreter.

He is allowed to drive throughout the state of Indiana and also is allowed to go back to New Mexico to pick up his semi-trailer and drive it back to Indiana.

A pre-trial conference is set for Aug. 2, 2021, followed by a tentative jury trial for Sept. 14, 2021.

See the case files on Document Cloud or Google Drive.

Past stories

Indiana man arraigned for death of woman near Gallup in hit-and-run crash

Judge dismisses one hit-and-run charge for man accused of killing woman, her infant, west of Gallup

State Police charge Indianapolis man with running over woman, infant, west of Gallup

Case documents

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