A USC graduate student who was found to be insane when he fatally stabbed a psychology professor on campus in 2016 was ordered Tuesday to be sent to a state mental hospital.
Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Leslie A. Swain noted that David Jonathan Brown, 29, faces a maximum commitment of life.
Brown had pleaded both not guilty and not guilty by reason of insanity for the Dec. 2, 2016, stabbing death of Siaufung “Bosco” Tjan, 50, inside the professor’s office, but withdrew his not guilty plea Jan. 30 after giving up his right to a hearing to determine if there was enough evidence to require him to stand trial.
After reviewing reports from two psychiatrists who examined Brown, the judge found him not guilty by reason of insanity.
Deputy District Attorney Beth Silverman told the judge at the Jan. 30 hearing that Brown fled down a stairwell after stabbing Tjan and was apprehended by campus security. 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, Carissa Pang, said the family’s life was “forever changed” with her husband “being taken from us unexpectedly.”
She noted that the family had been planning to travel to Hong Kong to celebrate his mother’s 80th birthday, but said her mother-in-law had to fly 15 hours to attend her son’s funeral instead.
“He was not a soldier in a war zone or policeman in a dangerous street. He was murdered in his research lab,” the victim’s widow 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, noting that she told him his father’s killer was “mentally sick and having bad thoughts” and that she felt helpless when her son asked why his father’s killer “did not see a doctor and take medicines to get better.”
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.
At the hearing in January, defense attorney Steve Schoenfield told the victim’s widow that Brown’s family “gives their condolences and hopes that you find some solace.”
The stabbing occurred on the last day of classes before finals in 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, authorities said.
Hundreds of USC students, faculty members and administrators gathered in the center of campus the following week in remembrance of Tjan, of Cerritos, who 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, USC officials said.
“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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