Lakshminivasa Nerusu said in court Tuesday that he has no memory of killing his family in their Novi townhome in October 2008 and argued he was temporarily insane when he committed the gruesome triple murder.
The 47-year-old unemployed software engineer’s trial on three first-degree, premeditated murder charges was expected to go to the jury after closing arguments Tuesday afternoon, the Detroit Free Press reports.
Authorities say Nerusu stabbed his wife nearly 60 times on the morning of Oct. 13, 2008, then waited for his children to come home from school and slit their throats before fleeing the next day for his native India, where he lived until he was extradited in 2013.
Nerusu’s attorney, Lawrence G. Kaluzny, said in opening arguments last week there’s no question the defendant killed his wife, 37-year-old Jayalakshimi; his daughter, 14-year-old Tejasvi; and his son, Siva Kumar, 12. But he said his client was legally insane at the time, a premise that court-ordered psychiatrists dismissed in pre-trial examinations.
Dr. Craig Lemmen, a psychiatrist at the Michigan Center for Forensic Psychiatry, testified for the defense during the trial and said Nerusu showed no signs of mental illness. He questioned why the defendant was able to recall the events leading up to the murder of his family, but not the killings themselves.
“There isn’t a good medical explanation,” Lemmen said. “Claims of amnesia are easy to make.”
WXYZ, Channel 7 reports that Nerusu, who at times had earned as much as $100 an hour, was broke an unemployed at the time of the killings and wanted to return to India. He reportedly lost more about $100,000 in the stock market during the Great Recession, his car had been repossessed and he could barely make rent on the family’s Novi townhome.
He said he was afraid of his wife, who he said had threatened him, the Free Press reported.
“I have problems for a long time with my wife,” he testified. “She was always blaming me. It was irritating me.”
When his wife said she didn’t want to return to India, he reportedly hit her and she moved to call police. He moved to stop her, he testified, but doesn’t recall what happened next.
According to the WXYZ report, Nerusu turned himself in while living in India because he was living in poverty.
“I have a master’s degree,” he said. “I don’t know how to live like that.”