PONTIAC, Michigan (AP) — Lakshminivasa Nerusu stabbed his wife 59 times and later slit the throats of his two children when they returned to their home from school in 2008. After that, he spent nearly five years on the run in India, hiding from professional failure — and authorities.
On Thursday, the 46-year-old unemployed computer software programmer, who continues to contend he was insane at the time of the brutal killings, was ordered to spend the rest of his life in prison.
But first, the graying, slight-of-build Nerusu listened to a judge harshly tell him that no murder case in her 18 years on the bench has so affected her.
“I have never presided over a trial where someone cold-bloodedly in a single swipe murdered their own children,” an angry Judge Nanci Grant told Nerusu in her Oakland County courtroom. “I think you must be wholly, completely and vilely selfish.
“That doesn’t make you mentally ill, that makes you an evil human being,” Grant said.
A jury convicted Nerusu last month of first-degree murder in the Oct. 13, 2008, slayings of his wife, Jayalakshmi Nerusu, 37; 14-year-old daughter Tejasvi; and 12-year-old son Siva in their Novi home, northwest of Detroit.
“What was most chilling ... is the video of your son getting on the school bus at the end of the school day,” Grant said Thursday, referring to evidence presented during Lakshminivasa Nerusu’s trial. “And all I could think about was: ‘Your mother’s already dead. Your sister’s already dead and you’ll be dead in 10 minutes.’”
Police checking on the family’s welfare found their bodies two weeks later, but by that time, Nerusu was in India, where he fled the day after the murders.
He was arrested in 2013 and extradited back to the United States to face the charges. Authorities said domestic problems preceded the deaths.
Nerusu testified during trial that he “blacked out” and didn’t remember what happened the day of the killings and must have been insane. At Thursday’s sentencing, defense lawyer Lawrence Kaluzny repeated his client’s claim.
“It doesn’t make sense. It never will make sense,” Kaluzny told the judge. “The only thing that makes sense to me in talking with him is that there has to be a mental illness or something. You don’t do this unless you’re mentally ill.”
But Grant alluded to Nerusu’s disenchantment with his life in the United States as the motivation behind his children’s deaths.
“Don’t ever say that you were a parent to them,” Grant told Nerusu. “Because they were two bright lights that you completely snuffed out because you wanted to get back to India where you could have been someone more important.
“Because what I think, sir, is this, you wanted to wipe out your whole family and start over again.”
The next stage of Nerusu’s life began Thursday in state prison.