USC Graduate Student Charged in Professor’s Stabbing Death

A tragedy darkened the last day of fall semester classes at University of Southern California, as a graduate student stabbed and killed a beloved instructor at the school. On December 2, 2016, Professor Siaufung “Bosco” Tjan was attacked by David Jonathan Brown in his office at the Seeley G. Mudd Building, according to the Los Angeles Times report. Brown was taken into custody immediately after the incident and is facing murder charges that were officially announced at his arraignment hearing on December 6, 2016. If convicted, he will face 26 years to life in prison for the crime.

Suspect Charged with First Degree Murder

Brown appeared in court a few days after his arrest for his arraignment, a hearing where he was presented with official charges and given the opportunity to enter a plea. He pled not guilty to charges of first degree murder. In California, murder is prosecuted as first degree or second degree murder depending on the circumstances. If the crime is intentional and premeditated, the more severe charge of first degree would apply; all other murder cases would carry a charge of second degree murder. The fact that Brown had the knife with him as he entered Tjan’s office might be used to establish the premeditated requirement for first degree murder. Brown remained at the scene of the crime after the incident, and was waiting for police when they arrived to arrest him.

Special Allegations: The charges against Brown include a special allegation due to the fact that he used a dangerous weapon – a knife – in commission of the crime. When criminal charges include a special allegation, the circumstances could add time to his prison sentence upon conviction.

Police did not state a motive in the case, but did mentioned that the attack was not random. There was evidence of some personal dispute, because Brown and Tjan were acquainted professionally: Brown was a student in the professor’s introductory lab course. Brown took a voluntary leave of absence in 2015 for “personal reasons.”

Professor Tjan’s Accomplishments: Tjan joined the USC faculty in 2001, as a Professor of Psychology at the Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences. He was a vision loss expert and operated a lab exclusively devoted to the study of human sight. Tjan was also the co-director of the Dornsife Cognitive Neuroimaging Center, which he helped establish in 2005. He was honored at a memorial service on campus December 5, 2016, which was attended by hundreds of students, staff and faculty.

Murder Cases in San Diego

All degrees of murder are prosecuted vigorously in San Diego, and cases involving special allegations for use of a deadly weapon will add extra time to your sentence if convicted. If you’re charged with murder, you must present a strong defense to the claims with the legal assistance of an experienced criminal attorney. A lawyer will fight for your rights to ensure the best possible outcome in court. For more information on defending against murder or other violent crimes charges, please San Diego Criminal Lawyer Alex Ozols San Diego to schedule a consultation about your case.

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