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Natural life for for UA professor's convicted killer

Plus 14 years for charges in addition to first degree murder for the 2022 on-campus killing of Dr. Thomas Meixner
Posted: 1:02 PM, Jun 24, 2024
Updated: 2024-06-24 19:47:32-04

TUCSON, Ariz. (KGUN) — Murad Dervish was sentenced today to natural life in prison without parole for the on-campus killing of University of Arizona hydrology professor Dr. Thomas Meixner.

In March of this year, a jury found Murad Dervish guilty of killing Meixner in 2022. Dervish shot and killed the professor inside the Harshbarger Building, where he worked as head of the UA's Hydrology and Atmospheric Sciences department.

Dervish's attorneys during the trial had sought a 'guilty except insane' verdict, which likely would have resulted in Dervish being sent to a mental hospital instead of prison.

Thomas Meixner's widow Kathleen Meixner issued a statement on the sentencing:

“The man who took my husband’s life will spend the rest of his life in prison – but that doesn’t bring Tom back. My sons will never see their father again in this life. The University of Arizona lost a treasured professor. The community lost a brilliant scientist. But most importantly – this sentence does not prevent the next tragedy when absolutely nothing has changed in a society that allowed a man with a violent history to have a gun in the first place. My family deserved better, and the next family deserves better. We need a Red Flag law now.

“I spoke in the courtroom today about accountability - taking responsibility for one’s actions and learning from mistakes. Our family recognizes that accountability goes beyond a life sentence for Tom’s murderer. It involves taking a close look at what happened before, during, and after this tragedy and acknowledging mistakes in order to learn from them, and to prevent this from happening to other innocent victims and their families. Additionally, accountability means determining how to provide the best care and resources for victims. This type of reflection should lead to solutions moving forward.”


In a statement responding to the sentencing, the Pima County Attorney's Office says it will continue to pursue red flag legislation.

On top of the first degree murder conviction, the jury also found Dervish guilty of charges for burglary, aggravated assault, possession of a deadly weapon by a prohibited possessor and endangerment.

Sentencing for the additional charges, totaling 14 years, are stacked on top of the natural life sentence.

Prior to the killing, Dervish, previously a graduate student in the department, had made threats that lead to his expulsion. Dervish was under an order that said he was not to enter campus at the time he killed Meixner.

Photos of Thomas Meixner shared with KGUN 9 by the Meixner family:

KGUN 9's Craig Smith and Ryan Fish will have more on this story later Monday.

MORE: 'I miss my friend:' UA professor opens up about the loss of Thomas Meixner

'I miss my friend:' UA professor opens up about the loss of Thomas Meixner