TAN '17

TAN '17

March 1, 2016

Charles Tan ’17 Decides to Leave Cornell After Murder Charge Against Him is Dropped

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Correction appended

Former student Charles Tan ’17 has decided not to return to Cornell after second degree murder charges against him were dropped in November of last year.

Tan, 20, was charged with the murder of his father, who was found shot multiple times in Tan’s Pittsford home last February. Charges against the student were dropped after a four week trial in October ended in a hung jury.

Although Tan originally planned to return to Cornell after his trial, he withdrew in advance of a disciplinary hearing that would have determined whether he violated the University’s code of conduct, Tan’s lawyer Brian DeCarolis told the Democrat and Chronicle.

DeCarolis added that Tan plans to continue his education at a school where people are not as familiar with his case, according to The Ithaca Voice.

Tan’s case was thrown out in a surprise move by Judge James Piampiano last year. Assistant District Attorney William Gargan was especially upset at the jury’s decision, accusing Piampiano of “amnesia,” according to the Democrat and Chronicle.

Piampiano responded by threatening to put Gargan in handcuffs, but Gargan said he did not regret his actions.

“I stand by every decision I made here and I was more than willing to have handcuffs placed on me to be able to argue my point, because I didn’t cross any lines,” Gargan said.

He added that although the judge dismissed the case, he believed there was enough evidence to convict Tan.

“When you have someone saying, ‘I did it. I had to do it. He was going to kill my mother.’ And you find the deceased. And you find the murder weapons. And the judge took great pains to point out that the murder weapon was found not in the house, but in the garage,” he said. “That’s the sort of nuance that is of little meaning.”

Tan’s defense team, however, emphasized that they believed the judge made the right decision.

“He’s been living a nightmare for over a year with this case going on,” said James Nobles, one of Tan’s defense lawyers. “Certainly at this point in time he can move on with the rest of his life.”


Correction: A previous version of this story incorrectly indicated that Tan’s father was shot 12 times. 

  • Mark

    I wish Charlie were returning to Cornell. The university would be far better off with such a selfless, loving person, so dedicated to others.

    • Mark Fox

      It seems that you may have drunk the Kool-Aid.

      • Mark

        That’s not a very convincing argument.

        Look, public opinion in Rochester, and these were people who followed the case closely, has been strongly in support of Charlie all the way through. And for obvious reasons. Charlie’s unstinting devotion to others was not just a nice thing to say about him, but was evidence of his innocence: this was someone who would not only be willing to take the fall for somebody else but would absolutely insist on it, even over another person’s strenuous objections. From the start, there was evidence that Charlie was covering for someone else. Not that he was, but that the DA failed to meet its burden of proof: if this person did it, or else that person did it, that’s what’s called reasonable doubt.

        The state failed to prove its case, because it couldn’t.

  • Joe

    guilty. !!!

  • Mark

    No, he is not guilty. He is innocent. The prosecution could not prove its case. Even pro-prosecution jurors said that the big stumbling block for the jury was that the prosecution could not place the gun in Charlie’s hands. End of story.

  • bj

    I think he did it but this was the right outcome because of the lack of proof other than Tan’s confession.

  • Ronald Schiff

    Did the judge write an opinion supporting his decision to not set this case before a another jury?