Phoenix/ Crime & Emergencies
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Published on May 22, 2024
Former University of Arizona Grad Student Convicted of First-Degree Murder in Tucson Professor's ShootingSource: Google Street View

A former University of Arizona graduate student, Murad Dervish, age 48, has been slapped with a first-degree murder conviction for the on-campus shooting death of hydrology professor Thomas Meixner last October, months following his expulsion; in a rapid verdict, the Pima County Superior Court jury also convicted him on five additional felony counts, including aggravated assault for narrowly missing a building manager with a stray bullet, as reported by FOX 10 Phoenix.

Displaying no discernible emotion as the jury delivered their decision, Dervish now faces the prospect of a life sentence set for determination on June 24, leaving onlookers to ponder the gravity of the incident, where Meixner, who spearheaded the university’s Department of Hydrology and Atmospheric Sciences, met a violent end via 11 gunshots delivered near his university office, according to details provided by AZ Family.

The court heard arguments positing Dervish's mental instability at the time of the killing, with defense attorney Leo Masursky suggesting a psychotic episode led to the tragic event, pleading for a lesser charge on the basis that “Murad Dervish lost his mind on Oct. 5, 2022,” as he contended with severe mental health issues, unable to distinguish right from wrong, an assertion highlighted in statements obtained by FOX 10 Phoenix.

Nonetheless, riveting courtroom outbursts from Dervish and testimonies shedding light on prior campus bans and harassment complaints suggested to some observers an intricate tapestry of preceding red flags, criminal defense attorney Russ Richelsoph told AZ Family, noting that the swift jury verdict likely indicated disbelief in the insanity defense, despite any speculation surrounding tactical maneuvers behind Dervish's courtroom demeanor.

The prosecution asserted that the actions were premeditated, with Pima County prosecutor Mark Hotchkiss discrediting the insanity claim by emphasizing evidence showing Dervish's calculated planning, including the purchase of a 9 mm handgun a month prior, as per details from FOX 10 Phoenix. After committing the crime, Dervish attempted to flee but was captured over 120 miles northwest of Tucson, with a loaded handgun found in his vehicle and ammunition matching the shell casings from the crime scene.