Crime

Nurse’s behavior was odd before he stabbed Kentucky child, ex-fiancée testifies

Ronald Exantus exhibited increasingly erratic behavior in the days before he left Indianapolis and stabbed a 6-year-old Versailles boy to death, according to trial testimony Tuesday.

The prosecution rested and the defense began presenting its case that Exantus, a dialysis nurse, was insane at the time he drove to Versailles, entered the Tipton house and killed the boy in his bed. The boy died in minutes from stab wounds to his head, neck and back, a medical examiner testified.

The prosecution says insanity is not a defense because the psychotic state of Exantus was self-induced by synthetic drugs. Exantus was lost on his way to Florida when he found the unlocked Tipton house in a neighborhood where he parked because he told police it reminded him of “Grey’s Anatomy,” according to previous testimony.

Lauren Burgess of Indianapolis was the first defense witness Tuesday. She had lived with Exantus for about a year before the December 2015 Versailles attack. She had dated him since September 2013.

Burgess said she and Exantus would smoke marijuana that she would buy. He had never exhibited adverse effects, she said.

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Burgess said she’d noticed that Exantus had stopped eating, and his behavior was especially odd at an Indianapolis church service where her father was baptized.

Burgess and her parents, William and Lisa Burgess, all testified that Exantus was agitated and crying.

“He kept rambling on, saying things that didn’t make sense,” Lisa Burgess said. “He said things like ‘I look death in the face every day.’”

After the church service, Exantus “kind of collapsed on one knee and asked Lauren to marry him but he was crying hysterically,” Lisa Burgess testified.

Lauren Burgess said the proposal came “from out of the blue” because they had not discussed marriage.

Later, Exantus and Lauren’s family ate at a Taco Bell. Exantus was “still babbling about work and how much he loved his patients,” William Burgess said.

Later that same day, Exantus told Lauren, “I don’t want to be with you. I don’t want to marry you.”

During cross-examination from Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Keith Eardley, Lauren Burgess acknowledged that Exantus had shown no unusual behavior when they went to a jewelry store to shop for an engagement ring.

On the night of Dec. 6, 2015, Exantus grabbed his shoes and left the Indianapolis apartment he shared with Lauren Burgess.

The next day, Indianapolis police officers came to the apartment. They told Lauren that Exantus had been arrested and that they were checking on her because Exantus had told police in Kentucky that “he had killed her.”

Earlier in the day, the jury watched footage recorded by a police officer’s body camera of the chaotic scene within the Tipton household after Logan’s siblings had discovered the boy stabbed and Exantus, a stranger, inside their house. The jury had also seen the video during the prosecution’s opening statement on March 5.

The recording plays like a nightmarish fever dream as screams and cursings are heard amid stretches of light and darkness.

“Why don’t you show some remorse?” a man’s voice tells Exantus as he is led to a police cruiser.

“What the hell did you do to that little boy?” another voice demands.

Dr. William Ralston, chief medical examiner for Kentucky, testified that Logan Tipton died of multiple sharp force injuries to his head, neck and back.

A metal fragment was removed from one wound to the back of the boy’s head, Ralston said.

He said the boy died of blood loss in the matter of minutes.

Testimony will resume Wednesday in Fayette Circuit Court. The trial was moved from Versailles to Lexington because of pretrial publicity.

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