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Amanda KAUR





Classification: Murderer
Characteristics: Attempted to manufacture a suicide scenario
Number of victims: 1
Date of murder: November 28, 2010
Date of arrest: 3 days after
Date of birth: 1983
Victim profile: Air Force Staff Sgt. Ira Kaur, 26 (her husband)
Method of murder: Shooting (.45-caliber handgun)
Location: New Underwood, Pennington County, South Dakota, USA
Status: Pleaded guilty. Sentenced to 65 years in prison on September 18, 2011

Amanda Kaur sentenced to 65 years for shooting Air Force husband

By Andrea J. Cook -

September 19, 2011

Only a whisper of emotion passed across Amanda Kaur’s face when 7th Circuit Judge John Delaney sentenced her to 65 years in prison Monday for the killing of her husband.

Kaur, 28, pleaded guilty to first-degree manslaughter for the killing of 26-year-old Air Force Staff Sgt. Ira Kaur in their New Underwood home last November. She faced up to life in prison.

At the time of her plea in June, Kaur said she was struggling with her suicidal husband when the gun fired. Kaur explained that she left the house to take her two children to breakfast at a local cafe and returned to discover her husband was still alive and fired the second shot.

More details of what happened that day were revealed by Pennington County deputy state’s attorney Joshua Zellmer Monday

The body of 26-year-old Ira Kaur, a military pay technician, was found on a futon in the basement of the couple’s home on Nov. 28. Kaur summoned police, but claimed her husband had committed suicide.

The mother of two was arrested a few days later and charged with murder.

A forensic exam confirmed that two gunshots, from a .45-caliber handgun, were fired several hours apart.

In court yesterday, Zellmer said that Ira Kaur was shot in the right temple at approximately 7 a.m. on Sunday, Nov. 28. The bullet traveled through a frontal brain lobe and exited his left cheek.

There was tremendous blood loss and Ira Kaur was in “agonizing pain,” Zellmer told Delaney. The victim lived for an estimated four to five hours before a second shot was fired directly into his forehead from very close range.

Both shots were fired while Ira Kaur was lying in bed, he said.

Forensic evidence later revealed that after the first shot, a pillow was pressed against Ira Kaur’s head and face, Zellmer said.

Bedding on the bed had been moved, but the victim was not moved, according to the prosecutor who accused Amanda Kaur of “staging” the scene to look like a suicide.

Ira Kaur was shot with a handgun that his wife bought less than 24 hours before the shootings.

Details of how and why there was a gun in the house were just one of many lies told by Amanda Kaur, according to Zellmer. She was alone when she bought the gun, not with her family as she originally claimed. And, her husband did not like guns, so it was unlikely he would approve of having a gun in the house, he said.

Last week, Zellmer attempted to withdraw the state’s plea agreement, insisting that the defendant had not given an accurate accounting of what happened the day her husband died.

After questioning the defendant for a third time on how her husband died, Delaney concluded Ira Kaur died when his wife “knowingly” pulled the trigger on the gun resulting in his death.

Amanda Kaur has told several versions of how her husband died, Zellmer said.

She recently wrote a letter as part of a pre-sentence investigation claiming that the shots were fired during struggles as Ira Kaur attempted to commit suicide. She claimed her marriage was abusive, but there is nothing to substantiate those claims, the prosecutor said.

Zellmer stressed that Amanda Kaur did not call 911 after the first shot was fired, but instead took her two children to breakfast.

Amanda Kaur told investigators that she had a “consensual affair” with another man, but the affair had nothing to do with her husband’s death. She still has contact with the man from jail. She also told them that her husband had never hit her.

“She now claims she was the victim of sexual abuse,” Zellmer said. “She will literally tell this court anything to get a lighter sentence.”

Zellmer also revealed that in the days prior to the shooting, Amanda Kaur had searched the Internet for information on the best place to shoot someone in the head and “Where is your jugular vein.”

“There is no evidence to support suicide,” Zellmer told Delaney.

Ira Kaur had adopted his wife’s two children just two weeks earlier. He had applied to Officer Candidate School and was pursuing his master’s degree.

“These are not the actions of someone planning to kill himself,” Zellmer said, while asking Delaney to honor the plea agreement and send Amanda Kaur to prison for 65 years.

Paula Pederson, Amanda Kaur’s public defender, challenged several of Zellmer’s arguments while asking Delany to consider shortening Kaur’s sentence.

Pederson said there are not monumental inconsistencies in her clients’ statements to investigators about Ira Kaur’s shot. There is information available to suggest the victim was suicidal and the couple attended counseling for marital problems, she said.

Amanda Kaur has never maintained that her husband’s death was not “an involuntary act,” Pederson said.

Pederson asked Delaney to consider the information in the pre-sentence investigation, particularly psychologist Dewey Ertz’s diagnosis. Ertz believes that Amanda Kaur has suffered from major depression most of her life and is suffering from post-traumatic stress syndrome, which prevents her from recalling the details of her husband’s death, she said.

The public defender described her client as “emotionally disengaged” from the events surrounding her husband’s death.

“She still loves Ira,” Pederson said.

Before passing sentence, Delaney said that he had read everything sent to him about the case.

Delaney said he believed the prosecution had a good case for a verdict of pre-meditated murder.

“I think she killed him. I think she knew what she did,” Delaney said.

Delaney said he did not question the plea agreement setting a 65-year sentence. Kaur will be eligible for parole after serving 50 percent of her sentence, or 32.5 years.

“There is no number that will give relief to Ira’s family,” Delaney said.


Amanda Kaur pleads guilty to manslaughter in death of husband

By Andrea J. Cook -

June 7, 2011

The wife of an Ellsworth Air Force Base airman who admitted shooting her husband in the head will spend no more than 65 years in prison if a judge accepts her guilty plea to first-degree manslaughter.

Amanda Kaur, 28, was originally charged with first-degree murder in the death of her husband, Ira Kaur, who was found in the basement of the couple’s New Underwood home with two gunshot wounds to the head in November.

Prosecutors, however, amended the charge to first-degree manslaughter, allowing Kaur to enter into a plea-bargain agreement, Pennington County chief deputy state’s attorney Lara Roetzel said Tuesday.

“First-degree murder has a mandatory life sentence. She couldn’t be sentenced to anything less than life in prison,” Roetzel said.

Under the terms of Tuesday’s plea agreement, the prosecution agreed to cap its sentencing request at 65 years, according to Pennington County deputy state’s attorney Josh Zellmer.

Circuit Judge John Delaney, however, reminded Kaur that she is subject to a maximum sentence of life in prison without parole. The sentencing is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. on Aug. 23.

Kaur, who is the mother of two, spoke softly when Judge Delaney asked her what happened on the Sunday morning her husband died.

According to Amanda Kaur, she was in a struggle with her 26-year-old husband as he was trying to commit suicide when the gun was fired.  She said she then left and took her children to breakfast at a local cafe.

When Kaur returned, she said she found her husband wounded but still alive and fired a second round into his head. She then called 911.

Investigators estimate that at least six hours passed between the initial gunshot and the second shot.

When Delaney asked Kaur if she fired the shot that killed her husband, she responded “yes.”

Court documents indicated that Amanda Kaur bought the gun used to kill her husband the day before his death.

Ira Kaur was an Arizona native and an Air Force sergeant who was stationed at Ellsworth Air Force Base. Members of his family will be allowed to testify at the sentencing hearing.

9:17 AM: Amanda Kaur pleaded guilty this morning to first-degree manslaughter for the Nov. 23, 2010, death of her husband Ira Kaur, 26, in New Underwood.

Ira Kaur was stationed at Ellsworth Air Force Base.

According to Amanda Kaur, 28, her husband had attempted suicide. She says they struggled and the gun went off.  She left with her two kids and came back to find him wounded and shot him again before calling 9-1-1.

The victim was found in the basement of home with two gunshot wounds to the head.

Prosecutors have agreed to cap their sentence request at 65 years, but the judge could impose a maximum sentence of life without parole.

A sentencing date has been set for Aug. 23.


New Underwood woman indicted for killing husband

By Andrea J. Cook -

December 16, 2010

A Pennington County grand jury indicted a New Underwood woman Thursday for the premeditated murder of her airman husband.

Amanda Kaur, 27, is accused of shooting Staff Sgt. Ira Kaur at the couple's home on Nov. 28. Ira Kaur was stationed at Ellsworth Air Force Base.

The victim was found in the basement of home with two gunshot wounds to the head.

Amanda Kaur was arrested Dec. 1. She remains in the Pennington County Jail under a $1 million bond.

Prosecutors have alleged that Amanda Kaur purchased the gun used to kill her husband the day before his death.

Investigators claim Amanda Kaur shot her husband and then took her two children to breakfast. She allegedly returned to find her husband alive and shot him a second time.

Amanda Kaur attempted to manufacture a suicide scenario, according to court documents.

She faces life in prison or the death penalty.


Woman allegedly shot husband twice in the head

By Andrea J. Cook -

December 2, 2010

Prosecutors claim a New Underwood woman fired two gunshots into her husband's head, about six hours apart, on Sunday. The final shot was fired at point-blank range, "execution style," into Ira Kaur's forehead, they said.

Amanda Kaur, 27, was arrested and charged with first-degree murder Wednesday for the death of her 26-year-old husband at their New Underwood home. Staff Sgt. Ira Kaur was a military pay technician at Ellsworth Air Force Base. If convicted, she could face the death penalty or life in prison.

"We have not made a decision yet on whether to seek the death penalty," Pennington County State's Attorney Glenn Brenner said Thursday afternoon.

Amanda Kaur is being held in Pennington County Jail on a $1 million bond set Thursday morning during her initial court appearance via video conference from the jail.

Amanda Kaur allegedly bought the .45-caliber handgun used to kill her husband the day before the shooting, Pennington County deputy state's attorney Joshua Zellmer said in court.

Ira Kaur was found lying under blood-soaked blankets on a futon in the basement hallway of the Kaur's home Sunday afternoon, according to a probable cause affidavit requesting a search warrant of the couple's home filed Monday.

Investigators sought the warrant to confiscate computer equipment, cell phones, cameras and any electronically stored photos or video from the couple's home in the 100 block of Oak Street.

According to Zellmer, Amanda Kaur's first shot was fired about 7 a.m. into the right side of her Ira Kaur's head, but the shot did not kill him.

Amanda Kaur allegedly proceeded to doctor the scene and "manufactured a suicide scene.

"She then took the kids to breakfast," Zellmer said.

When Amanda Kaur returned to the house, she allegedly discovered her husband was still alive. Zellmer said she continued to doctor the scene.

A neighbor told investigators that a "somewhat frantic" Amanda Kaur knocked on her door about noon, asking for zip ties. She even offered to pay for the zip ties, according to the probable cause affidavit.

Six hours after Ira Kaur was first shot, a second shot was fired into his forehead, Zellmer said.

According to the probable cause affidavit, Amanda Kaur claimed she left the couple's home with her children about noon to go grocery shopping at Ellsworth Air Force Base. She returned around 1 p.m. and was in the house for 20 minutes before claiming to find her husband on the futon.

"Amanda then took the gun upstairs, wiped it off with a wash cloth. She then wrapped the gun up in the wash cloth. Amanda then covered Ira with a blanket and called 911," the affidavit states.

Amanda Kaur was arrested Wednesday afternoon on the service road east of New Underwood, according to authorities.

Zellmer said Amanda Kaur may have been trying to flee the area, something that Amanda Kaur denied in court Thursday.

"I was not trying to flee," she said. "I was taking clothes to my children."

Kaur's next court appearance has not been set.


Airman killed in shooting, police arrest wife

By Nick Penzenstadler -

December 1, 2010

Authorities arrested the wife of an Ellsworth Air Force Base airman Wednesday, charging her with the alleged murder of her husband.

Amanda Kaur, 27, originally from North Dakota, is charged with shooting and killing her husband, Staff Sgt. Ira Kaur, 26, on Sunday at their off-base home on the 100 block of East Oak Street in New Underwood.

Pennington County Sheriff's deputies responded Sunday to a subject not breathing call at the Kaur home. Authorities said the circumstances surrounding the death were suspicious and investigators from the Sheriff's Office, Rapid City Police Department and United States Air Force Office of Special Investigations were called to the scene.

After an autopsy and further investigation, Lt. Marty Graves of the Sheriff's Office said there was enough evidence for the probable-cause arrest Wednesday.

"It wasn't until late Tuesday night that we were able to know what exactly we were dealing with," Graves said. "We don't have any other suspects."

Sheriff's deputies arrested Amanda Kaur Wednesday at around 12:30 p.m. without incident on County Highway 1416, which runs parallel to Interstate 90 east of Box Elder.

Ira Kaur, originally from Arizona, had been stationed at Ellsworth since 2007. Base officials said Wednesday that he was a military pay technician.

"We consider every airman a valued national resource, and Sgt. Kaur will be deeply missed," Col. Jeffrey Taliaferro, base commander, said in a release Wednesday. "Our focus now is on helping his family and friends during this difficult time and assisting with the investigation into his death."

Amanda Kaur has been charged with first degree murder. She is being held in the Pennington County Jail without bond. The charge carries a maximum penalty of death or life in prison in addition to a possible $50,000 fine.

Police said the investigation is continuing.


Amanda Kaur walks from the Pennington County Jail to the Pennington
County Courthouse on Monday, Sept. 19, 2011.
(Ryan Soderlin/


 Amanda Kaur, center, walks from the Pennington County Jail to the courthouse.
(Andrea Cook/



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