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UPDATE: President Robbins issues statement on guilty verdict in UA murder case

Jurors reject “Guilty except insane” verdict
Posted at 7:31 PM, May 21, 2024

TUCSON, Ariz. (KGUN) — University of Arizona President Robert C. Robbins issued a statement on the verdict handed down in the Murad Dervish trial.

Dervish was found guilty of first-degree murder Tuesday, May 21, for the shooting death of Thomas Meixner, on the UA campus.

"I hope that this rightful verdict brings some comfort to Tom Meixner’s family, friends, colleagues and the university community as we continue to grieve his tragic loss. No amount of justice can ever return Tom to his family, but they will continue to have our love and support. Every day, we honor Tom's memory through ongoing efforts to strengthen the safety and security of university faculty, staff and students."

The man who shot and killed University of Arizona Professor Thomas Meixner is likely headed for prison—not a psychiatric hospital. Jurors found Murad Dervish guilty of first degree murder and rejected a possible verdict of guilty except insane.

Jurors had no doubt Murad Dervish was the killer and they quickly decided on the question of whether Murad Dervish was too insane to know whether that killing was wrong.

Murad Dervish showed no obvious emotion as he heard the verdict: Guilty of First Degree Murder. Court rules forbid showing the audience where members of the Meixner family wept quietly as they heard the ruling.

Prosecutor Mark Hotchkiss says it motivated him to see the family in the audience day after day.

“They've been just to hell and back. I'm not sure if they're back yet, but they deserved what happened today. Tom did not deserve what happened to him, but they deserve to have some small sense of justice delivered by these twelve jurors.”

Jurors quickly rejected the defense claim Dervish was so gripped by mental illness, he did not understand it was wrong to shoot Thomas Meixner. If they had ruled “guilty except insane” Dervish would have been confined to a psychiatric hospital instead of prison.

Defense attorney Leo Masursky did not feel free to say much about the case or the outcome.

“It's a homicide case where my co counsel and I defended it on what we had.”

Jurors also found Dervish guilty of five other charges where he wounded another man and endangered three women in the office where Meixner died.

Prosecutors say they’ll ask that Dervish get life without parole, when he’s sentenced June 24.

Craig Smith is a reporter for KGUN 9. With more than 40 years of reporting in cities like Tampa, Houston and Austin, Craig has covered more than 40 Space Shuttle launches and covered historic hurricanes like Katrina, Ivan, Andrew and Hugo. Share your story ideas and important issues with Craig by emailing or by connecting on Facebook and Twitter.