A judge ruled Tuesday that a USC graduate student was insane when he fatally stabbed a psychology professor on campus about 14 months ago.
Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Leslie A. Swain made the ruling after reviewing reports from two psychiatrists who examined David Jonathan Brown, 29, after the Dec. 2, 2016, stabbing death of Siaufung “Bosco” Tjan inside the professor’s office.
Brown — who had pleaded both not guilty and not guilty by reason of insanity — withdrew his not guilty plea after giving up his right to a hearing to determine whether there was enough evidence to require him to stand trial.
Deputy District Attorney Beth Silverman told the judge that Brown fled down a stairwell after stabbing Tjan and was apprehended by campus security officers. He subsequently told authorities that he believed he was “a victim of human experimentation,” according to the prosecutor.
In an emotional statement, the victim’s widow said the family’s life was “forever changed” with her husband “being taken from us unexpectedly.”
Carissa Pang noted that the family had been planning to travel to Hong Kong to celebrate his mother’s 80th birthday, but she had to instead fly 15 hours to attend her son’s funeral service.
“He was not a soldier in a war zone or policeman in a dangerous street. He was murdered in his research lab,” Pang said, telling the judge that she feels helpless being thrown into the life of a single mother to their young son “because of one man’s decision to end my husband’s life.”
“I feel helpless when my son asked me why his father was killed,” she said. Pang said she told him that his father’s killer was “mentally sick and having bad thoughts,” and her son then asked why Brown “did not see a doctor and take medicines to get better.”
Brown — who has remained in custody since his arrest — is due back at the downtown Los Angeles courthouse March 6 for a hearing to determine where he will be placed. He could spend the rest of his life in a state mental facility.
The judge told the victim’s widow that her family will be notified of any changes in Brown’s treatment or where he will be housed.
Defense attorney Steve Schoenfield told Pang that Brown’s family “gives their condolences and hopes that you find some solace.”
The stabbing occurred in the Seeley G. Mudd building on the final day of classes before finals. Tjan, 50, was pronounced dead at the scene of a stab wound to the chest.
Hundreds of USC students, faculty members and administrators gathered in the center of campus the following week in remembrance of Tjan, who lived in Cerritos and had taught at USC since 2001.
“May each of us, as members of the Trojan family, resolve to bring comfort and support to his wife and child,” USC President C.L. Max Nikias said during the ceremony near the Tommy Trojan statue on campus.
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.
–City News Service
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