A Maryland mother kisses her son goodbye and is innocently walking down the street when she's cut down in a hail of bullets. She was just going down the street, a quick walk to the bus stop.

A random attack? Or was it an assassination? Why did this hardworking mother of one have to die?


A piece of cake, a pair of boots, a woman's handbag in the middle of the road -- artifacts marking the spot where 49-year-old Preeta Gabba lost her life. But who was she, and why the violent end?

"Her name was Preeta Gabba," said Dan Morse, a Washington Post staff reporter who covered the story. "She was an immigrant from India a very sort of a well-liked hardworking woman. Her big goal in life was for her son Lim to go farther than she went."

Lim is her only son, and Preeta was his only parent. Lim's father died when he was a teenager, leaving Lim and Preeta struggling to make ends meet in India.

Then it seemed like that better life might be within reach. Preeta met a new man, someone successful man. His name was Baldeo Taneja.

"He was a biostatistician," said Lim. "He made great money. He had a Ph.D. in biostatistics."

And after the death of Preeta's first husband, the father of two seemed to provide some much needed stability. Baldeo and Preeta married soon after they met.

A good father, a stable provider, and the promise of a truly new beginning.

"Baldao was already sort of halfway in the United States, he was going back and forth," said Morse. "He had a business here so he moves to the U.S. and Preeta and Lim stayed in India. Their goal was to follow him to the U.S. and start a new life there."

But for Preeta and Lim, it would be a dream delayed.

Baldeo would spend the next three years getting settled with his sons before calling for his bride. Lim says Baldeo and Preeta talked all the time.

But then, Lim says that during one summer trip to the States before he moved here officially, he visited Baldeo at home, and found his mom's spot occupied by another woman. Raminder Kaur was living in the same house with Baldeo Taneja. And as soon as Lim got back to India, he told his mom.

Then, not long after that, Lim says Preeta finally made the move from India into her cheating husband's home. And one of the first things Preeta did in the States was to tell Baldeo that she was divorcing him. Lim says he doesn't let her go willingly.

"Things became extremely tumultuous," said Marybeth Ayres, assistant state's attorney, Montgomery County, Maryland. "They began divorce proceedings and during those proceedings, he engaged in the strangest behavior, doing things like, he put up a drywall in the apartment so she could only access certain areas that he wanted her to access."

But no wall could block out the consequences of Baldeo's infidelity. Once the divorce is finalized, a judge orders him to pay Preeta alimony totaling $2,200 each month.

"There were several emails back and forth that showed the hostility between the two of them, and he once wrote an email to her that pretty much said 'You do not deserve to be a parasite on me for financial support,'" said Ayres.

Not that he couldn't afford his payments.

"I would say he was making maybe a hundred-plus-K a year," said Lim.

But Preeta stood strong. Soon, she and Lim moved to a new apartment in Germantown, Maryland. And it seemed Baldeo had moved on, as well.

"Baldeo and his new girlfriend became wife, they moved to Nashville, Tennessee," said Dan Morse.

A new life for all involved -- but how long would it last?

On October 12, 2013 at 7:45 a.m., Preeta packed a lunch and left for work.

"So that morning I was supposed to go to work, and she was leaving for work too, but she had to leave earlier," said Lim.

"So I got into the shower and next thing I know I come out of the shower, I get dressed and I hear somebody knocking on the door," said Lim.

It was the police. The news was grim.

"They ask me, 'Did you hear any gunshots?' And I responded no," said Lim. "And then they tell me have a seat, and that's when they showed me my mother's license, and they're like, 'Do you know this woman?'"

Just a few hundred feet away from their apartment, Preeta Gabba lay dying in the street.

"She walked out the door and was about to cross the street and then head to the bus stop, and it was right when she was about to cross the street that someone came up to her, approached her and shot her three times," said Morse.

"We walk out and all I see is her stuff on the street in the middle of the street, her bag, umbrella, and the next thing, then I get in an officer's car and he takes me to the hospital," said Lim.

Once there, Lim receives the most crushing news of his life: His loving mother is dead.

"It was just me now, I had to be on my own, no family," said Lim. "Nobody."

But who did it, and why Preeta?

"This is an absolutely wonderful woman who didn't appear to have any enemies in the world," said John McCarthy, Maryland state's attorney of Montgomery County. "This was not somebody who was involved in any kind of nefarious criminal activity, so you'd have some type of explanation for why someone would do this to her."

Detectives talk to Lim, and right away he tells them about the contentious divorce between his mom and Baldeo, as well as some still unpaid alimony.

"He owed her like $10,000," said Lim. "He didn't make payments for a few months. And I still remember when I was talking to the detective, he said owing somebody $10,000 is a good reason to kill somebody," said Lim.

But then, Baldeo was living 600 miles away in Nashville.

And the eyewitnesses on the scene described the shooter as a woman.

"One of them heard shots and looked up and saw what she thought were two women, and then one women falls and the other woman takes off," said Dan Morse.

The witnesses also described the shooter as wearing a long wig. Either way, there was only one woman in Preeta's life with whom she'd ever had a problem: Raminder Kaur, her ex-husband's new wife.

Did Preeta know what Raminder looked like?

"They had seen each other once, they had a confrontation one time during the pendency of the divorce," said Ayres. "They [Baldeo and Raminder] had spied on Preeta Gabba in the past during the divorce, while it was pending, and Baldeo and used Raminder to be the person to follow her around a Walmart store, and they were texting back and forth while Raminder was spying on her and telling him what she was doing."

And Lim confirms his mom knew about it. Police were curious enough to start making some calls around Raminder and Baldeo's hometown.

"They could tell that Preeta died from a revolver, and they just sort of randomly started calling gun shops in the Nashville area, and one of them just got lucky, it was one of the first shops, they called and the guy, he just recalled 'Yeah, I sold that guy Baldeo a gun and yeah, his wife came in," said Morse.

And the store owner had more than just his word to back it up. There was surveillance video from the shop, which clearly shows both Baldeo and his wife Raminder shopping for guns.

"They end up buying two revolvers, one sort of a normal size and one a snub-nose revolver," said Morse.

It was too suspicious to be ignored. So less than two days after Preeta's murder, authorities in Maryland decide to pay Baldeo and Raminder a visit in Nashville.

"They had gotten to their house and I think they were trying to decide whether they were going to go in the house or not, and then all of sudden the couple comes driving up," said Morse.

Baldeo and Raminder tell police they're just coming back from a work conference in Washington, D.C. But their luggage says otherwise.

"In the car we found two guns, two wigs and two hoodie sweatshirts," said Ayres.

Not exactly business attire. The weapons were later found to be the very same guns Baldeo and Raminder were seen buying on that surveillance video.

"The gun that was used in this homicide was recovered from their vehicle in the original packaging underneath some articles of clothing," said McCarthy.

Baldeo and Raminder were brought back to Maryland to be formally charged with first-degree murder and conspiracy to commit first-degree murder and use of a handgun in a crime of violence. They were not offered a plea, according to Marybeth Ayres.

As far as authorities are concerned, they have the couple dead to rights. But Baldeo and Raminder insist that at the time of the murder, they were at that work conference in D.C. And when police check it out, they find that in fact they were. So what gives?

"They came here on Friday, spent the night Friday, committed the murder Saturday, pretended to attend a conference downtown for about a minute and a half," said John McCarthy. "Literally it was a ruse. They were there 15 minutes at maybe the maximum amount of time. They literally traveled 600 miles to go to something for about 15 minutes."

The prosecution would argue at trial the couple was trying to establish their alibi.

Though both Baldeo and Raminder are tried together, they're not exactly a united front.

"Baldeo Taneja tried to blame it on Raminder Kaur's son and that just, there just was no evidence of that at all, and then Raminder's attorney actually tried to say that some young woman that Baldeo worked with was the shooter because she, I guess, was Indian and matched the description of the shooter to a certain degree," said Ayres. "We found that woman. We found out who she was and we brought her to court and had her testify and it was absolutely clear she had nothing to do with this."

So then, if it was Baldeo and Raminder, who actually pulled the trigger?

"The prosecutors kept making the point to the jurors that if they both planned this, they both went to the neighborhood, one of them was in the car parked nearby and the other one was the shooter, we don't need to tell you who the shooter is. They're both guilty," said Morse.

And the jury agreed. Though neither Baldeo or Raminder took the stand, the jury felt they'd heard enough.

"They were each convicted of first-degree murder," said McCarthy. "They were also convicted of conspiracy to commit murder and use of a handgun in the commission of a crime of violence. They each got a sentence of life."

Case closed? Story over? Not exactly.

Raminder appeals the verdict, arguing that her attorney never let her take the stand in the first, and that she had a story that would turn the entire case on its head.

"What she was asserting was that during the trial as they're going back and forth to the jail every night, her husband's next to her, you know, they're in their chains or whatever, and he's taunting his wife, and he said 'You know I drugged you, and when you were passed out, I slipped up to my ex-wife's neighborhood and I put a blouse on and a wig and I disguised myself as you and you're gonna go down for this.'"

It's a claim too outrageous to ignore, and shockingly, Raminder got her new trial. But when it finally came time to share her incredible story?

"She didn't take the stand, you know, we were all waiting for this big moment," said Dan Morse. "It definitely upset the prosecutors."

"It was a fraud on the court for them to petition for a new trial. It was a disgrace they had a new trial, and the result is they basically had a retrial of the first trial again and she was convicted again," said McCarthy.

Guilty again, along with her husband Baldeo, for the cold-blooded slaying of Preeta Gabba.


Lim is now 25 years old, and trying to fulfill his mother's dream of a better life for her son, going to college full time while working.

Once a week, he visits his mother's grave, and he says that even though he no longer has any living ties to this country, because his mom is buried here in Maryland, he can he can never go back home again.

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