A man who pleaded no contest to killing his wife with a hatchet had been diagnosed as having a bipolar disorder just weeks before the murder in 2014, according to an expert that testified on his behalf in Racine County Felony Court on Monday.
Cristian Loga-Negru, 39, of Illinois, pleaded no contest before Racine County Circuit Court Judge Eugene Gasiorkiewicz in May to a single felony count of first-degree intentional homicide for killing his estranged wife Roxana Abrudan, 36, in Mount Pleasant and attacked her with a hatchet in the yard. He was in court on Monday in front of Racine County Felony Court Judge Eugene Gasiorkiewicz to determine whether Loga-Negru is not guilty by reason of mental disease or defect, which would then result in the county establishing a treatment plan and not court-ordered prison time.
The defense put Loga-Negru, his father, Marius Loga-Negru, and Dr. Nathan Glassman, a neuropsychologist who does forensic evaluations, on the stand for the court trial. Gasiorkiewicz will decide whether Loga-Negru should be held criminally responsible for his wife’s death. To make the determination, Cristian must have a mental illness, the criminal behavior could not be controlled and he was not aware of the wrongfulness of his behavior at the time due to the mental illness.
Cristian in a Hyper-Manic State Prior To Homicide
An immigrant from Romania, Cristian grew up when the country was controlled by a communist dictator where corporal punishment was a regular occurrence during school. Cristian was shy and he refused to recite certain things in class. When this happened, his teachers repeatedly smashed his head up against the blackboard in front of the class.
At the age of 13, Cristian witnessed a man being shot. Ten years later he would come to the United States. He studied law in Romania and received a law degree in the United States from the Valparaiso University Law School as well. He also joined the U.S. Army in the Counter Intelligence Unit in South Korea where he identified over 200 cases of soldiers claiming leave that had not earned the benefit. This resulted in many of those soldiers losing their benefits and many of them being shipped to Iraq. Angry, many of those soldiers were verbally abusive to him.
This contributed to Cristian’s PTSD, Glassman said.
“My opinion is that he was not able to conform his behavior to the requirements of the law,” Glassman told the court. “He had consulted with the VA because he was having symptoms of depression on more than one occasion so that was one indicator, the psychiatrist interviewed him telephonically, and gave him a diagnosis of bipolar disorder and prescribed medication.”
Glassman concurred with the mental health assessment by a doctor with the Veterans’ Administration that showed Loga-Negru suffered from a bipolar disorder and was in a hyper manic state weeks prior to the homicide. That VA doctor prescribed an anti-psychotic medication to Loga-Negru. But he never got that prescription from the Veterans’ Administration because it was sent to his apartment after he had been given an order to leave by an Illinois judge after Abrudan told him that Loga-Negru had threatened to hire someone to kill her.
Defense attorney Mark Nielsen argued that Cristian, who has a bipolar disorder and PTSD, was experiencing a mental defect at the time of the criminal behavior as he suffered from depression and a hyper manic episode. However, Racine County Deputy District Attorney Tricia Hansen pointed out that Cristian has two law degrees — one from Romania and one from the United States — and while in jail he read up on these diagnoses to prepare for the case.
Hansen highlighted that Cristian — a trained lawyer — had done research on bipolar disorders, PTSD and obsessive compulsive disorder to prepare for his trial.
“He stated this is for his case,” Hansen said. “He’s been asked these questions and knows he’s going to be interviewed more and wants to know what to say,” Hansen said. “Did that give you any concern about the information he provided you later in 2015?”
While somewhat concerning, Glassman said he took that under consideration when writing his report, but it’s not uncommon for his clients to research mental health diagnoses.
“It is expected,” Glassman said.
Hansen also called out the fact that Glassman’s diagnosis was based on Cristian’s self-reporting.
Abrudan Wanted U.S. Citizenship
Abrudan and Cristian met through LinkedIn, a professional networking site on the Internet. Starting a stock trading company with Richard, his business partner and best friend, Abrudan worked as a loan coordinator for a bank in Arlington Heights, Ill. The relationship between the three started off on a professional note, but over time Abrudan shared that she was having trouble getting her citizenship papers through the immigration department.
But Cristian felt a more personal connection to Roxana, who was also from Romania.
“Roxana was a protégé for me,” Cristian told the court. “I felt that she was struggling with the immigration process and from the very beginning I wanted to introduce her to people to give her the opportunity for to meet others. I thought she was the victim of circumstances.”
Abrudan married Richard with the goal of getting her to become a U.S. citizen, but the marriage was a sham as he lived with his parents, not with Abrudan. And when Richard filled out the immigration papers incorrectly and the application got rejected, Abrudan blamed Cristian and he decided to try to help her retain an attorney. Ultimately, the two became romantically involved. Richard divorced Roxana eight months later, Cristian divorced his wife, and Roxana and Cristian married in 2014.
Once married, Roxana changed “entirely,” Cristian said. Her demeanor, her behavior, her preferences… she completely changed.”
Another way to receive a visa is through a U visa, which is where a spouse claims that her husband is either physically or mentally abusing her.
One day in late October, Abrudan served papers on Cristian, which ordered him to leave their apartment. Abrudan accused Loga-Negru of making threats to hire someone to kill her. Leaving the apartment, Loga-Negru slipped into a depression, began having suicidal thoughts, lost over 20 pounds, spoke in incoherent sentences and started having hallucinations about seeing Abrudan in the grocery store. Studying for his second Master’s Degree, Cristian found it difficult to continue his studies.
“I was in terrible distress,” Cristian told the court. “I was in a state of shock because everything was going down the drain. I started to panic. I called people and asked them what to do.
Marius Comes To the United States
When Cristian called Marius in Romania after Roxana had served the court order on him in November, Marius knew his son was depressed. Cristian knew his father didn’t speak English, but he muttered incomplete sentences to him in English. When he came to Arlington Heights, Marius told the court that his son had lost weight, he had hallucinations, his motel room was a mess, and he drove erratically.
“His overall attitude started to change,” Marius told the court. “When we were talking over the phone, he was not sharing everything with us and he was trying to channel the conversation to other subjects. Or he would abruptly end the conversation.”
Marius came to the United States to help Cristian put his life back together. But Cristian seemed agitated, kept telling him that he saw Roxana, and took him to Mount Pleasant where they stayed at a Super 8 Motel.
“I felt he was very disoriented and alone,” Marius said.
According to his criminal complaint, Loga-Negru on Nov. 21, 2014, tracked Abrudan, 36, to her boss’ house in Mount Pleasant and attacked her with a hatchet in the yard when she returned from an errand. The couple was separated after Abrudan filed a police report and obtained a restraining order against Loga-Negru. Abrudan had been staying in Mount Pleasant for about a month where she went to hide from Loga-Negru.
Autopsy results show that Abrudan died of “multiple chop wounds and blunt force injuries.” In addition to several deep lacerations to her head, Abrudan suffered broken bones in her face and head, chop wounds to both hands and cuts and bruises on her legs.
The trial is expected to continue on Tuesday.