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Son of Montgomery County murder victim: ‘She was the only family I had’

Preeta Gabba. (Courtesy of Montgomery County State's Attorneys Office)

Lim Gabba stays busy with two jobs — delivering auto parts during the day and pizzas at night. It helps distract him from dwelling on the death of his mother, Preeta Gabba, who was shot last October. But his efforts don’t always work — alone behind the wheel, driving near her office, stuck in traffic.

“Tears start running down,” the 23-year-old said.

The two people who killed his mother were convicted Thursday after a seven-day trial in Montgomery County. Jurors concluded that 63-year-old Baldeo Taneja and his 64-year-old wife, Raminder Kaur, drove from their home in Nashville, ambushed Preeta Gabba, 49, outside her apartment and drove back home. The motive, according to prosecutors: Taneja, a PhD-level biostatistician who previously had been married to Gabba, was still bitter over their divorce.

The conclusion in court Thursday was certainly felt by Lim Gabba. “Justice was served,” he said Thursday night. “They got what they deserved.”

But it pales in comparison to what he continues to face daily, feelings that started the morning of Oct. 12, 2013.

There was a knock at the door. Two uniformed police officers greeted him. They showed him his mother’s driver’s license. They matched it with a photo of his mother in the apartment. They told him she had just been shot and said they would take him to the hospital.

Just moments before — inside the apartment mother and son shared — Preeta Gabba had made herself a sandwich and headed out the door to walk to the bus stop. It was just the two of them living there, along Crystal Rock Drive in Germantown.

The officers walked Lim Gabba out to a patrol car. On the way, he looked onto the road. He saw his mother’s umbrella, bag, purse and sandwich. “I was hoping and praying she hadn’t passed away,” Gabba remembered.

A police officer drove him to the hospital. He never saw his mother alive again.

“She was the only family I had,” Gabba said.

Years earlier, when he was growing up in India, his biological father passed away from liver disease. He had no brothers and sisters. His mother married Taneja in India, but that relationship began to fall apart. Still, the three eventually ended up in Maryland.

After his mother’s death, Gabba stayed in the apartment. A buddy later moved in to help with the rent. Gabba dropped out of community college because his mother had been helping him with the tuition. He took the two delivery jobs.

Gabba plans to return to college this fall, get his associate degree and pursue bachelor’s and master’s degrees, probably in the area of human-resources management. “My mom always wanted me to get those degrees,” he said.

He has thought about colleges far away, but in his planning he keeps coming back to the University of Maryland. Gabba wants to be near his mother’s grave site. He goes there every week.

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Dan Morse covers courts and crime in Montgomery County. He arrived at the paper in 2005, after reporting stops at the Wall Street Journal, Baltimore Sun and Montgomery (Ala.) Advertiser, where he was a Pulitzer Prize finalist. He is the author of The Yoga Store Murder.



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