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Published on May 20, 2024
Former University of Arizona Grad Student on Trial for Murder of Professor in TucsonSource: Unsplash/Tingey Injury Law Firm

The endgame is set for the trial of a former University of Arizona grad student charged with the on-campus murder of a noted professor. Murad Dervish, 48, is facing a string of felony charges, including first-degree murder. He allegedly shot Thomas Meixner, 52, a hydrology and atmospheric sciences professor, multiple times near his campus office in October 2022. Meixner, an authority on desert water issues, succumbed to his injuries at a local Tucson hospital.

In a move that shocked the courtroom, defense attorney Leo Masursky told jurors that Dervish's actions weren't premeditated, claiming he is "guilty except insane to second-degree murder," an apparent plea to an insanity defense. Meanwhile, Pima County prosecutors are holding their ground, contending that the slaying was deliberate and that Dervish was very much aware of his actions, ABC15 reports.

Dervish, who was enrolled in the master’s degree program in atmospheric sciences at the time, had previously been barred from the university premises. This restriction came after he received a poor grade and ensuing complications with faculty, which ultimately led to his expulsion. Prior to the fateful day, a flyer featuring Dervish's photograph had been circulated amongst university staff with clear instructions to contact authorities upon his sighting, as cited from a criminal complaint.

The severity of this case is underscored by the testimonies of witnesses, who say Dervish came disguised in a surgical mask and baseball cap to Meixner's office before committing the crime. He was later apprehended by state troopers over 120 miles from the scene, and authorities discovered a loaded 9 mm handgun in his car. The ammunition matched the shell casings found at the murder site, according to details from 12news.

With the trial reaching its climax, all eyes are now on how the conflicting defenses will play out in court. Closing arguments are set to begin Monday, bringing to a close a chapter that has shaken the University of Arizona community to its core.