USC professor Bosco Tjan. Photo courtesy of the university
USC professor Bosco Tjan. Photo courtesy of the university

A USC graduate student charged with murder in the on-campus stabbing death of a psychology professor appeared in a downtown court Monday, but his preliminary hearing was postponed.

David Jonathan Brown, 28, spoke clearly and coherently when he asked Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Terry A. Bork whether he could have a word with his attorney before agreeing to the postponement.

After a brief consultation in a secure area adjacent to the courtroom, Brown agreed to have the matter reset for Jan. 19.

Brown, who was bundled in a blue quilted wrap belted by the shackles that secured his hands, with his arms and legs bare, will remain in custody in lieu of $2 million bail while awaiting the hearing to determine if there is sufficient evidence to require him to stand trial.

The murder count includes an allegation that Brown personally used a knife to kill Siaufung “Bosco” Tjan inside the professor’s office.

The stabbing was reported at 4:30 p.m. Dec. 2 at the Seeley G. Mudd building in the 3600 block of McClintock Avenue. Tjan, who was stabbed in the chest, was pronounced dead at the scene.

Brown was arrested without incident, according to the USC Department of Public Safety, and has remained behind bars since then.

“This was not a random act of violence,” according to a statement posted on the department’s website. “The Los Angeles Police Department believes this was the result of a personal dispute.”

The killing occurred on the final day of classes before finals.

If convicted as charged, Brown could face up to 26 years to life in state prison, according to the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office.

Hundreds of USC students, faculty members and administrators gathered in the center of campus Dec. 5 in remembrance of Tjan, 50, of Cerritos, who had taught at USC since 2001. Tjan leaves behind a wife and son.

Tjan was a training faculty member in the USC Neuroscience Graduate Program. He was an expert on perception, vision and vision cognition and helped found the USC Dornsife Cognitive Neuroscience Imaging Center, where he served as co-director.

“We’ve really lost an incredible mind and extremely generous person,” said Irving Biederman, Howard Dornsife Professor of Neuroscience and director of the Image Understanding Laboratory. “You could not ask for a better colleague. He was brilliant, knowledgeable and helpful to others.”

—City News Service

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