Aita Gurung was found guilty of murder on Thursday for killing his wife with a meat cleaver and injuring his mother-in-law five years ago.
The jury found Gurung guilty of first-degree murder in the killing of his wife Yogeswari Khadka, 32, in Burlington, and attempted second-degree murder in the attack on his mother-in-law in October of 2017, according to the attorney general’s office.
Gurung was originally charged with murder in his wife’s death, but the charges were dropped in 2019 by the county prosecutor, who said evidence showed he was legally insane at the time. Then-Attorney General T.J. Donovan refiled the charges months later after Republican Gov. Phil Scott asked him to review the case. Donovan said he wanted to restore public trust and that the issue of insanity should be decided by a jury.
“The Attorney General’s Office has always believed that this matter — the tragic death of Yogeswari Khadka and the near-fatal attack on Tulasa Rimal — deserved to be heard in a court of law and required a response from our justice system,” said current Attorney General Susanne Young in a statement on Thursday.
Police allege that in October 2017 Gurung attacked and killed his wife and injured his mother-in-law hours after he had sought mental health treatment at a local hospital.
During the four week long trial, the defense argued that Gurung insane at the time of the attack. Defense experts testified that Gurung had “command hallucinations” and presented evidence of his history of psychiatric care.
The court on Thursday ordered Gurung to continue to be hospitalized in a mental health facility pending a hearing on that status, according to the attorney general’s office. An email was sent to Gurung’s public defender seeking comment.
Scott said afterward that the conviction showed the justice system had worked.
“The primary responsibility of any government is public safety,” he said in a statement. “And that means we cannot allow violent criminals to potentially walk free. This case –- and the victims –- deserved their day in court. Justice was served.”
This story has been corrected to reflect that Gurung was convicted of attempted second-degree murder, not attempted first-degree murder.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.