Judge denies new psych evaluation for alleged cleaver killer
BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) - A judge has denied the request for a new psychiatric evaluation for a man accused of a brutal attack in Burlington that left his wife dead.
Vermont’s attorney general argued the evaluation may have been different if a translator had been present but the judge says the AG didn’t make the case.
A Nepalese translator is used at all hearings for Aita Gurung, but Attorney General T.J. Donovan says one wasn’t present for a key psych evaluation.
The push for a new one came after Chittenden County State’s Attorney Sarah George dropped the charges against Gurung based on a psych evaluation, concluding he was legally insane.
“We disagree with the judge’s ruling,” said Donovan, D-Vt. attorney general.
Frustration from the attorney general after Judge Samuel Hoar denied another mental health evaluation for Aita Gurung.
“We’re reviewing our options, whether we appeal the judge’s decision to the Supreme Court,” Donovan said.
Gurung is accused of killing his wife with a meat cleaver in October 2017.
“The best-case scenario from my perspective is that it doesn’t happen again and that we treat Mr. Gurung and the mental health issues that he has in the appropriate setting,” said Chittenden County State’s Attorney Sarah George, who declined to prosecute the case in 2019 after the state’s own expert said Gurung was legally insane when the incident happened.
“The case law in my opinion had been clear on that point. The state can’t just continue getting new experts because they don’t like the outcome of the opinion of the one that they got,” George said.
The attorney general refiled the charges a few months later, requesting a new evaluation.
The state’s attorney is critical of the time and money the AG spent on this case for the same outcome.
“This is a case where resources and money frankly should be spent to prosecute this case when someone is brutally murdered,” Donovan said.
The court denied the new psychiatric evaluation, saying the AG failed to prove it was necessary after several psychiatrists agreed Gurung was legally insane at the time.
“We are going to proceed with the prosecution of this matter in court. The issue of sanity is a legal defense that will be litigated in the courtroom and for a jury to decide,” Donovan said.
In his order upholding the initial evaluation, the judge says the case should be ready for trial.
Gurung has been in state custody since the day his wife was killed.
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