Trial begins for man accused of using meat cleaver to murder wife
BURLINGTON, Vt. (WCAX) - Trial began Friday for the Burlington man charged with murdering his wife with a meat cleaver back in 2017.
Aita Gurung is charged with first-degree murder and attempted first-degree murder after police say he killed his wife and severely injured his mother-in-law in a daytime attack that left a Burlington neighborhood shaken.
Friday, the court heard opening statements from attorneys and from witnesses who watched the violence unfold.
Prosecutors say it all started when Gurung asked his wife for beer and she wouldn’t give it to him.
“On that sunny October 2017 day, however, the defendant and his meat cleaver were too much for Thulsa Rimal, and her beautiful Yogeswari lay dying in the driveway of their Hyde Street apartment,” Vt. Assistant Attorney General Rosemary Kennedy said.
The state called several witnesses including bystanders who watched the murder unfold and law enforcement who responded. Each was asked to tell the jury what they saw.
“They said, ‘He’s going to kill her, he’s going to kill her.’ I just heard a girl’s voice in the background, ‘Somebody needs to stop this, he’s going to kill her,’” said John Casey, a witness.
Larry Packard called the police.
“His wife went up and pulled on his shirt to pull him off of her mother, and that’s when he turned and went after her,” Packard said.
Gurung’s attorney, Sandra Lee, says he was admitted to the psychiatric unit at the UVM Medical Center days before the murder. She says while Gurung was there, doctors evaluating him did not notice any signs of hostility between him and his wife. She says, under the law, doctors could not keep him in the psychiatric wing.
Days later, during the attack, the defense says Gurung was insane, hearing voices in his head.
“Suffering acutely from psychotic symptoms... Auditory hallucinations, voices that were telling him, commanding him to hit his wife, kill her, kill her, do not leave her, finish her,” Lee said.
It has been almost exactly five years from the day of the murder, and the trial is just getting underway. That’s because Chittenden County State’s Attorney Sarah George dropped charges against Gurung after a psych evaluation showed he was insane at the time of the murder. The attorney general’s office is prosecuting the case now at the urging of Vermont Gov. Phil Scott.
The state will continue to present its case on Monday.
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