Attorney general gets new hearing in case of accused cleaver killer

Published: Dec. 31, 2020 at 4:23 PM EST|Updated: Dec. 31, 2020 at 5:45 PM EST
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MONTPELIER, Vt. (WCAX) - The case of a Burlington man charged with killing his wife with a meat cleaver is going back to court after the Vermont Supreme Court on Thursday sided with the attorney general’s office.

The high court ordered a new hearing to consider the attorney general’s request for a second mental health evaluation of Aita Gurung.

Gurung was first charged back in 2017 for the attack that killed Yogeswari Khadka and badly injured her mother.

Gurung’s mental health has been in question from the beginning and the county prosecutor eventually dropped the charges.

But Attorney General T.J. Donovan reopened the case and now says the earlier sanity evaluation was unreliable because it was conducted without a Nepali interpreter.

I asked Donovan if it’s a waste of state resources to bring this case back to court.

“This is not a waste of time. These are the cases we should be prosecuting in the court of law. The question of sanity is not a medical diagnosis, it is a legal defense that should be litigated in front of Vermonters through a jury system in a court of law,” said Donovan, D-Vt. Attorney General.

Back in January, Gurung was committed to a mental health hospital. The case was put on hold until a doctor could determine he was competent for trial again.

No word yet on when the new hearing will take place to see if there will be a new mental health evaluation.

I asked why they are going through this and whether the AG believes there could be a different outcome in this case. I didn’t get a straight answer to that. Donovan told me his office should be allowed to develop its own case with its own experts.

When this case was re-filed last year, Donovan took over the original case and the evidence that came with it. But he did not specifically address whether he thinks that all this work and will lead to a different outcome.

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