A man who Burlington Police say attacked his wife with a meat cleaver has pleaded not guilty to her murder.
Aita Gurung, 34, of Burlington is facing first degree murder charges after police say Yogeswari Khadka, 32, was attacked with a meat cleaver around 2:30 Thursday afternoon.
With his head down, dressed in a blue dress shirt Gurung entered a Burlington courtroom Friday and denied killing his wife Yogeswari Khadka in what police call a brutal cleaver attack. His mother in-law Tulsa Rimal is severely injured.
“From our perspective he grabbed at some point a meat cleaver and attacked his wife and mother in-law with that cleaver, striking them multiple times,” said Sarah George, Chittenden County State’s Attorney.
Police say Gurung had requested mental health assistance, just days before the attack after he claimed to have been in a domestic dispute with his wife. Burlington’s police chief said she denied being assaulted, which is why Gurung wasn’t arrested then.
“She said ‘yes, my husband is having some mental health issues, he does take medicine, I think he is slipping off his meds, this is a problem but I don’t think he committed a crime against me’,” said Brandon del Pozo.
Chief del Pozo said about two hours before Thursday’s attack, Gurung was released from UVM Medical Center where he had been under psychiatric care since October 7th.
“He was there voluntarily, they couldn’t hold him, and he wished to go home… So his wife, the victim Mrs. Khadka came and picked him up sometime maybe around noon or one, drove him back to the residence and around 2:30 he is alleged to have murdered his wife,” said del Pozo.
Police say Gurung lived at the residence with Khadka, his in-laws and their eight year-old daughter who was at school during the attack. The family were refugees from Nepal.
Del Pozo said, “These are folks that kept to themselves and were quiet.”
A judge ordered Gurung to be held without bail Friday. He will be in the custody of the Vermont Department of Mental Health pending a competency evaluation. Court documents show both victims suffered several cuts to the upper body including their heads, chest and arms.
George said, “That sidewalk was covered in blood, the house was covered in blood… It was really heartbreaking.”