August 15, 2001


 Life sentence for slayings of veterinarian, wife

Posted Aug. 1, 2001


Dr. Nirwan T. Thapar
Dr. Nirwan T. Thapar

One of two men charged in the robbery-motivated murders of a Maryland veterinarian and his wife nearly two years ago was sentenced in June to life in prison without parole.

Robert A. Perez Jr., 19, was convicted this April of two counts of first-degree felony murder, two counts of using a handgun in the commission of a felony, robbery with a deadly weapon, and conspiracy to commit armed robbery with a deadly weapon, according to the Washington Post.

The charges stem from the murders of Dr. Nirwan T. Thapar and his wife, Shashi Thapar, at Dr. Thapar's small animal practice in Bladensburg, Md. (see JAVMA, Nov. 1, 1999, page 1233).

On Sept. 15, 1999, police responded to a call of two people shot at the Bladensburg Animal Hospital. They found the Thapars inside the hospital suffering from gunshot wounds. Dr. Thapar, whose throat had also been cut, according to the Post, was pronounced dead at the scene, and Mrs. Thapar died shortly afterward at a local hospital.

The Thapars emigrated from India to the United States, where they became naturalized citizens. Dr. Thapar earned his BVSc degree at Hissar College of Veterinary Sciences, Haryana Agricultural University in India, and a master's degree in nutrition at South Dakota State University.

Perez was sentenced June 25 to two life terms without parole for the murder convictions, plus 30 years for other crimes, the Post said.

Prosecutors and police say that, on the basis of statements made to police by Perez and co-defendant Thomas J. Gordon, 19, Perez and Gordon committed the robbery and Gordon shot the Thapars, according to the article. Gordon has told police he saw Perez standing over the wounded Dr. Thapar with a knife. Under Maryland law, anyone participating in a robbery that results in a homicide can be convicted of felony murder, even if they did not kill, the Post said.

Gordon will be tried in August on two counts of first-degree felony murder.