Key murder for hire witness testifies under protection

FRESNO, Calif.

/*Daljit Singh Multani*/ is on trial for solicitation of the murder of Fresno planning commissioner /*Rama Dawar*/.

Joe Yzaguirre walked into court under heavy protection -- both at a preliminary hearing last year, and Friday at trial. The key witness in the Multani murder-for-hire trial is in the Witness Protection Program so we're not showing his face. He says Multani asked him to kill Dawar, and offered to pay.

"$2000 as well as taking care of me in a sense of work and as well as providing someone else to be killed," Yzaguirre said.

Dawar had sued Multani over an investment he made in the limousine business that was connected to Multani's tow truck business.

The Fresno planning commissioner said Friday he filed an online police report after Multani's wife called to warn him her husband wanted to harm him. He didn't think the threat was credible, but Yzaguirre says Dawar just didn't know how close Multani came to murder.

"At one point, he had even followed Mr. Rama Dawar with a gun of his own," Yzaguirre said of Multani. "He wanted to kill him, but he changed his mind."

Yzaguirre eventually arranged to wear a police wire and record Multani's attempts to hire a hitman. In one meeting, he had Multani name the target.

"What's his name?" asked Yzaguirre on the secretly recorded conversation.

"Rama," Multani said. "Rama Kant."

"Rama?" Yzaguirre asked.

"Rama Kant Dawar," Multani said.

Yzaguirre says Multani gave him a $100 deposit and talked about giving the hitman a business card so he could find Dawar.

"And the business card will have the address to his office, right?" Yzaguirre said on the surreptitious recording.

"Yes and he has his picture there too," Multani said.

"And his picture and address to the office?" Yzaguirre said.

"Yes, and the house number," Multani said.

Defense attorney Tony Capozzi admits Multani wanted to kill Dawar, but says he had a change of heart. And he questioned Yzaguirre's credibility -- pointing out the informant's prior convictions for burglary, grand theft, and filing a forged document.

Jurors will have the next two weeks to figure out who's telling the truth.

Copyright © 2019 KFSN-TV. All Rights Reserved.