Man convicted of murdering Harris County Deputy Dhaliwal gets death sentence

Pooja Lodhia Image
Thursday, October 27, 2022
Robert Solis sentenced to death for Deputy Dhaliwal's murder
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The jury recommended the death penalty in the sentencing trial of Robert Solis, the man convicted of killing Deputy Sandeep Dhaliwal in 2019.

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- The man convicted of murdering beloved Harris County Deputy Sandeep Dhaliwal during a traffic stop in 2019 has been sentenced to death.

Robert Solis showed no emotion as the sentence was read on Wednesday.

Jurors deliberated for just 35 minutes before recommending the death penalty in the punishment phase of the trial. They deliberated for 25 minutes in the guilt phase.

"I said, 'Hey, we can have death row in my backyard. I'll just do it Texas-style, oak tree, and a rope.' We didn't have to go through two weeks, two and a half weeks of trial," juror Randall Raschke said.

"I had a nice open mind when I first started out," another juror said. "But no, I'm sorry. It was what it was."

"It's hard not to fight. It's hard not to get emotional," Prosecutor Lauren Bard said. "I think for any prosecutor, at this point in your career, if this doesn't bring you to that level of emotion, you shouldn't be prosecuting these kinds of cases."

Jurors saw multiple angles of the shooting and heard from 65 prosecution witnesses, who testified about a criminal history that goes back more than 30 years.

Solis fired his attorneys and represented himself in the trial. He did not present any witnesses.

During his closing argument, his last chance to address jurors, Solis merely said, "The only thing I have to say is that it's your decision to make. My life is in your hands."

Solis asked for several delays during the trial. He told the judge he was sick, and also said he hadn't been given proper time to prepare.

His behavior throughout the trial stands in direct contrast to the life and legacy of Deputy Sandeep Dhaliwal.

Deputy Dhaliwal was the first Sikh deputy in Harris County. He was a trailblazer who changed local regulations to allow other law enforcement officers to display articles of faith while on duty.

He leaves behind a wife and three children.

"Anybody I talked to, they say, 'I wish we had a Dhaliwal at this time,'" Deputy Dhaliwal's older sister, Harpreet Rai, said. "How many people get justice today? How many families?"

"If anyone can ever imagine the most decent, the most decent human being you'll ever meet," former Harris County sheriff and family friend Adrian Garcia. "The person (who) really impacts you just from the moment he smiles at you, the moment he shakes your hand, to the moment he's there when you don't realize you needed him."

"We should all aspire to be a Dhaliwal. He left such a legacy. He was a humanitarian and he helped so many beyond his work," Sheriff Ed Gonzalez said.

Just moments after Solis received the death sentence, a teenager gave a victim's impact statement, speaking directly to Solis.

"You're a nobody, Robert. You're the least powerful person in this room," she told the court.

Solis called her a liar and was admonished by the judge and immediately surrounded by deputies.

As she stepped down, she received a standing ovation from those in the courtroom, including jurors.

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