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Updated: 6th January 2019 09:34

Accused Mountie in deep depression

An Alberta Mountie has appeared briefly in court, charged with second-degree murder in the death of his wife at their Edmonton home.

Charged with second-degree murder in wife's death

RCMP Const. Tirth Sehmbi, 36, shown in this court sketch, briefly appeared before a judge Monday. ((CBC))

An Alberta RCMP constable charged with killing his wife was in a deep depression in the days before her death, a family member told CBC News on Monday.

Tirth Sehmbi, 36, is charged with second-degree murder in the death of his wife, Rajpinder Sehmbi, 29. She was found dead in the couple's southeast Edmonton home on the weekend.

The relative, who did not want to be named, last saw Tirth Sehmbi five days ago. He was profoundly depressed and not in good shape, she said.

Tirth and Rajpinder Sehmbi had been married for 10 years in an arranged union.

The same family member told CBC News it was a violent marriage: sometimes she would hit him, other times he would hit her, she said. The couple also spoke of separation, according to the relative.

Six years ago, Rajpinder Sehmbi returned to India to be with her family. A year later she returned to Canada to give the marriage another try.

The relative told CBC that police had been called to the home more than once because of fighting. Neighbours said they often heard arguments.

"I would say it was heated," said Kendra Hunt. "A couple of times, she threw stuff at him. Can't remember what it was. But it was like a box of something, and she threw it at the car and he got in the car and he left. "

Woman a 'genuine, generous person'

Rajpinder Sehmbi had a job at a Starbucks coffee shop in Edmonton where she worked with Cara Levesque for two years.

"Raj was a really awesome person," Levesque said. "She was very outgoing, very lively, and a very generous person."

Once, Levesque fretted over a pizza dough recipe she wanted to make for a dinner party. The next day, Sehmbi showed up at work with a plastic container full of pizza dough for Levesque to use.

"She wanted my dinner to go really well. And that was Raj ... she tried to help you without even having to be asked. So she was a really genuine, generous person."

Levesque last saw Sehmbi a month ago and was devastated when she heard of her death.

Accused appeared confused

Tirth Sehmbi was in court Monday morning in an appearance that lasted less than a minute. Sehmbi, who came into the courtroom in leg shackles, was unshaven and appeared to be confused.

Rajpinder Sehmbi, 29, was found dead Saturday at her home in southeast Edmonton. ((John Ulan/Canadian Press))His case was put over to Aug. 12. Sehmbi will remain in custody, separated from other inmates.

Sehmbi was charged Sunday after his wife had been found dead Saturday at the couple's house in the Jackson Heights neighbourhood. Police were called to the home at about 4 a.m. MT after reports of gunshots.

Sehmbi has been on the federal police force for more than seven years, and most recently worked as a canine handler with the Stony Plain detachment.

He has been suspended with pay, said RCMP Sgt. Tim Taniguchi, but a review process will look into the possibility of suspending him without pay.

"The RCMP, as a family, we are very shocked and deeply saddened by this event," Taniguchi said at a news conference Monday. "It is a truly tragic incident. We again extend our sincere condolences to the victim's family."

Police confirmed to CBC News that they have been in touch with Rajpinder Sehmbi's family in India.

Corrections

  • RCMP originally mistakenly reported the charged constable's name as Tarith Sehmbi. In fact, his name is Tirth Sehmbi.

    Oct 17, 2013 11:58 PM MT

With files from the CBC's Kate Scroggins

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