After representing himself in a losing effort, a convicted murderer told jurors they might as well sentence him to death. Robert Solis, 50, was just found guilty of capital murder for shooting and killing Harris County Deputy Sandeep Dhaliwal, 42, in a September 2019 traffic stop.
“Since you believe I’m guilty of capital murder, I believe you should give me the death penalty,” Solis said in the beginning of his penalty phase on Monday, according to KTRK.
Jurors reportedly took 25 minutes to find him guilty as charged.
Solis, who fired his defense and represented himself at trial, maintained that he “lost control” of his gun and accidentally shot Dhaliwal while trying to recover it. He did not mean to kill the man, he said.
“It happened,” he said, according to KPRC. “I can’t change it. Was that my intent? My objective? Absolutely not.”
“I stand before you an innocent man until you all go back there and deliberate and determine whether or not the state has met its burden and whether I intentionally and knowingly, a conscious objective, shot this deputy,” he reportedly told jurors.
But prosecutors said Solis, who was a fugitive for a parole violation, shot Dhaliwal in the head because he did not want to return to prison.
The deputy was heading back to his patrol vehicle when shot, authorities said. His bodycam footage showed that Solis jumped out of his car, ran up, ordered Dhaliwal to put his hands up and not move, and then shot the deputy in the head at point-blank range, according to KPRC. Authorities said Solis fired several times.
“This is an act,” prosecutor Lauren Bard said, according to KTKR. “This is a choice. This is intent, and he comes running up to that man with a gun and he shoves him up against the car.”
A year ago today, Deputy Sandeep Dhaliwal was fatally shot while conducting a traffic stop. He was known for his sense of humor and his ability to make personal connections with his fellow deputies and with the community he served.
Gone but never forgotten. pic.twitter.com/ZZt4QkMB0z
— HCSOTexas (@HCSOTexas) September 27, 2020
Today we honored our fallen brother Deputy Sandeep Singh Dhaliwal, with a ceremony at @HCSO_Academy where his family presented us with his Sikh turban.
In 2015, Deputy Dhaliwal was approved to wear his Sikh religion turban and beard while on duty. #hounews pic.twitter.com/rYvMUqq3Fh
— HCSOTexas (@HCSOTexas) September 24, 2021
Dhaliwal, Harris County authorities said, was their first Sikh sheriff’s deputy. He wore a turban while on duty.
Solis was previously convicted for a 2002 incident, in which he tracked down his cousin’s boyfriend and the shot the man in the leg for allegedly abusing her, according to KRIV. Police found Solis holding his 4-year-old son and a gun. He and officers engaged in a standoff for an hour and a half.
He was released on parole in 2014, serving 12 years of a 20-year sentence, but he ended up getting convicted in 2016 of a DWI. He got a second chance with the parole board choosing not to send him back to prison, but he got in trouble again, facing a parole warrant in January 2017. Authorities said he possessed a gun. He remained a fugitive until that fateful 2019 traffic stop.
[Screenshot via KTRK]
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