Fresno murder-for-hire suspect claims he changed his mind
FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- The case of a murder-for-hire plot targeting a Fresno city official could turn on the testimony of a convicted felon-turned-police informant.
A judge ruled Monday there's enough evidence to take the case to trial. Action News uncovered details of secretly recorded conversations that led to the arrest of Daljit Singh Multani in April. A police informant wore a wire and caught Multani talking about hiring a hitman.
The secret recordings caught Multani clearly planning to have his former friend, Rama Dawar, killed. But the informant who turned Multani in, and wore a wire to help police make a case, didn't record one very important conversation.
Police escorted Joe Yzaguirre into the courtroom Monday, protecting the police informant from a crowd supporting the man he could send to prison. Yzaguirre secretly wore a wire and recorded his boss at Multani's towing and Limo company.
In a series of those recorded conversations, Multani offered cash to hire a hitman to kill Dawar, a Fresno planning commissioner. Multani's former investor and friend had recently filed a lawsuit against him.
Defense attorney Tony Capozzi admits his client said he wanted Dawar dead, but says Multani eventually decided not to go through with it.
"There is a tape saying that (Multani wanted Dawar killed)," Capozzi said. "But then again, the last tape that was played, he kept saying, 'I want to go to court. Don't do anything. Wait.'"
Prosecutors need to prove Multani took steps to make the murder happen. Police say he gave their informant a gun, but Yzaguirre didn't wear his wire for that exchange.
"When there's a conversation with the defendant, it's not there because he forgot to have it recorded for a purpose," Capozzi said.
Police observed parts of the gun transaction, but the chief investigator only found out Monday how Multani got the weapon in the first place. Yzaguirre admitted during a preliminary hearing that he acquired the gun himself, then gave it to Multani without letting police know.
Capozzi says that's just one example of how unreliable the convicted felon is. "He's lied throughout this hearing and i think it's going to come back and haunt him at the time of trial."
Prosecutors chose not to comment about Monday's hearing. The case should go to trial sometime in the next two months. When it does, Capozzi says Multani is planning to take the stand to speak for himself.
fresno, fresno county, crimetracker, local, corin hoggard
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