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Attorneys deliver closing arguments in trial for 2022 UA campus killing

Jury to begin deliberating Tuesday morning
Posted at 12:40 PM, May 20, 2024

In the video player above: Unedited closing statements by prosecution and defense attorneys.

TUCSON, Ariz. (KGUN) — Jurors will be back in the Pima County Superior Courthouse Tuesday morning to consider whether the man who shot and killed University of Arizona professor Dr. Thomas Meixner should go to prison or to a mental hospital.

No one disputes whether Murad Dervish killed Thomas Meixner. No one is asking for a 'not guilty' verdict. The difference is that prosecutors are pursuing a verdict of Guilty of First Degree Murder, and defense attorneys argue that Dervish should be ruled Guilty but Insane of Second Degree Murder.

Defense attorney Leo Masursky told jurors Murad Dervish was so paranoid he thought Thomas Meixner was a continuing threat to him, and he was too mentally ill to know it was wrong to shoot him.

Dervish had been fired from his teaching position, expelled and barred from campus after a series of threats.

Masursky read a Dervish quote from a psychologist's interview with Dervish to show Dervish didn't truly know what was happening as he pulled the trigger 11 times:

"I said I thought maybe the gun would make a noise or something. So those words, what they mean is he wasn't even intentionally trying to kill."

But Prosecutor Mark Hotchkiss said though Dervish might be mentally ill, he still showed he was very aware killing Meixner was wrong, from buying a gun, to being so determined to avoid arrest a state trooper had to ram Dervish’s van to stop him as he drove away from the university the day of the shooting, October 5, 2022.

...”and to say that what he did and the way he behaved rose to the level of 'guilty except insane', that’s just an insult to anyone that is actually struggling with severe mental illness," Hotchkiss said.

Because closing arguments went late in the day Judge Howard Fell told jurors to go home following closing arguments. Jurors will begin deliberations Tuesday morning.

Closing arguments complete in Murad Dervish trial