June 2, 2014 at 1:00 am

Jury selection to begin Tuesday for ex-fugitive accused of killing family

Nerusu (Novi Police Department)

Pontiac — Jury selection is scheduled to begin today in Oakland County Circuit Court for a Novi man charged with the 2008 killings of his wife and their two children.

Lakshminivasa Rao Nerusu, 46, was charged in November 2008 and remained a fugitive after the bodies of his 37-year-old wife, Jayalakshmi; a daughter, Tejasvi, 14; and a son, Siva Kumar, 12, were found inside their Novi home.

Investigators said Nerusu, an unemployed computer software programmer, fled to India. He was arrested there in February 2013 and extradited to Michigan a few months later to face three counts of first-degree murder.

Nerusu’s defense attorney Lawrence G. Kaluzny told Judge Nanci Grant in a hearing last month that an insanity defense will be raised at trial.

Nerusu has had two forensic exams — one by state psychiatrists in September 2013 and an independent evaluation in February — but is reportedly contesting findings from both reviews that he was mentally competent.

Nerusu is in the Oakland County Jail without bond.

The victims were found in late October 2008 after a relative called police, expressing concern because no one had been able to reach the family. Nerusu’s wife and children died from severe head and neck wounds, investigators said.

Police believe the victims were killed two weeks earlier, on Oct. 13, the same day Nerusu bought bandages at a local drug store.

Police have store videos that show Nerusu making purchases that morning. They believe he suffered wounds in an attack on his wife, sought bandages for himself, returned to the home and waited for his children to get home from school, when he then killed them.

Nerusu took a flight out of Detroit Metropolitan Airport to India the next day.

After testimony in the trial, expected to last a week, the jury will determine if Nerusu is innocent or guilty of the killings or whether he should be acquitted because he was either unable to distinguish right from wrong at the time or was not in control of his actions.

mmartindale@detroitnews.com
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