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GUILTY: Jury hands down verdict in trial for 2022 UA campus killing

Posted: 11:24 AM, May 21, 2024
Updated: 2024-05-21 21:14:42-04

TUCSON, Ariz. (KGUN) — After only a matter of hours, jurors handed down a verdict of guilty of murder in the first degree Tuesday morning in the trial of Murad Dervish, the man who shot and killed University of Arizona professor Dr. Thomas Meixner.

His attorneys, acknowledging Dervish had shot Meixner on campus in October of 2022, had sought a verdict of Guilty Except Insane.

Attorneys delivered their closing statements in the case Monday afternoon. The jurors were told to report at 9am Tuesday to begin deliberation. By around 11:30 the court was informed they would be presenting their verdict on the six counts brought against Dervish.

The guilty verdict for Murder in the First Degree will likely mean a prison sentence for Dervish. Sentencing is currently scheduled for Monday, June 24 at 1:30 p.m.

Craig Smith has been following this case since Meixner was killed back in 2022. He speaks with attorneys from the prosecution and defense later today in our evening newscasts.


Verdict handed down in Murad Dervish trial

In addition to the first degree murder charge, the jury found Dervish guilty on five additional charges:

  • Aggravated assault with a deadly weapon or dangerous instrument
  • Burglary in the first degree
  • Possession of a deadly weapon by a prohibited possessor
  • Two counts of endangerment


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