Thierry Nkusu spent the hours after he stabbed his pregnant fiancée scrubbing away evidence, throwing away his bloody clothes and then superficially stabbing himself in an effort to stage his gruesome and callous crime as a break-in, Montgomery County prosecutors said in a sentencing memorandum that aimed to see the 35-year-old Silver Spring man spend the rest of his life behind bars.
Maria Mbunga was about 16 weeks pregnant when police and prosecutors say she was stabbed seven times by Nkusu in her Takoma Park apartment on April 27, 2016. Nkusu ultimately called 911 and told police an unlikely story about an intruder, according to police charging documents. He was found guilty of murder after a two-week jury trial this April.
At Monday’s sentencing, prosecutors argued that Nkusu’s effort to alter the crime scene—in an attempt to protect himself—showed that he could not be rehabilitated and should receive the state’s maximum penalty: life without the possibility of parole.
“The defendant’s callous disregard for the life of his fiancée and unborn child demonstrate that he is incapable of rehabilitation and that he presents a danger and threat to the community if he is ever released,” Montgomery County State’s Attorney John McCarthy and Assistant State’s Attorneys Ryan Wechsler and Brian Rubinstein wrote in the memo.
Montgomery County Circuit Court Judge John Maloney granted the prosecutors’ request and sentenced Nkusu to the maximum penalty.
Also in the sentencing memorandum, prosecutors said Nkusu’s motive for the crime was that he did not want to be “burdened” with the financial responsibility of having a child. Prosecutors described the murder as cold-blooded, with Nkusu stabbing Mbunga at least three times in the abdominal area.
At 16 weeks, the fetus was not considered viable outside the womb, which meant that Nkusu could not face a separate murder charge for the unborn child under Maryland law.
Ramon Korionoff, public affairs director for the Montgomery County State’s Attorney’s Office, issued a statement after Monday’s sentencing hearing.
“Thierry Nkusu deserves this sentence. He killed Maria Mbunga … with malice aforethought knowing she was pregnant with their child,” Korionoff said. “Killing a young woman on the way to motherhood is [despicable] and dastardly. Not only did he end the life of Maria but that of an unborn baby. Today justice was served.”
After Nkusu was found guilty in April, McCarthy said there is a “semi-epidemic” of domestic violence killings of pregnant women in the country.
A 2017 report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that 15 percent of the more than 10,000 women killed nationwide between 2003 to 2014 were pregnant or had recently given birth. Nearly half had died at the hands of a current or former intimate partner, according to the report.
Earlier this year, the family of Laura Wallen pressed lawmakers in Annapolis for an expansion of Maryland’s fetal homicide law, which only applies when a fetus would be viable if the fetus had been born.
Wallen, a pregnant school teacher from Olney, was found dead in shallow grave in Damascus last September. Tyler Tessier, who was Wallen’s boyfriend at the time of her death, faces one charge of murder in Montgomery County Circuit Court.