September 29, 2015

Week of Testimonials To End in Former Cornell Student’s Trial

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A week of testimonies are expected to close Tuesday in the trial of Charles Tan ’17, a former Cornell student who pleaded not guilty to second-degree murder charges in the February shooting of his father.

On Feb. 9, police arrested Charles Tan, then a student in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, after discovering his father, Liang Tan, fatally shot in their Pittsford, New York, home. Jury deliberations are likely to begin Tuesday, according to The Democrat & Chronicle, a Rochester-based publication.


James Nobles, Charles Tan’s defense lawyer, and his co-counsel Brian DeCarolis said the prosecution has not met the burden of proof, emphasizing that there is no evidence that Charles Tan ever had the gun in his possession, the Chronicle reported.

“One thing I would note is that you haven’t heard any evidence that Charlie ever had this gun in his possession or hands. We know it was purchased at Walmart, we know it ended up in the garage, but no one has said where it was or what it did between those two points,” Nobles said.

A forensic biologist from the Monroe County Crime Laboratory said there were three samples of DNA found on the trigger of the gun found in the Tan home on Feb. 9, but the samples could not be tested because they were too small, according to the Chronicle.

Nobles has continually argued that the Tan family had a history of abuse, noting at February press conference that police reports had been filed going back to 2008 and 2009. Qing Tan, Charles Tan’s mother and Liang’s wife, attempted to acquire an order of protection against her husband before his death.

Introduced at the trial on Wednesday, a 911 call placed by Qing Tan recorded her asking for helping, saying that her husband had thrown her to the floor and choked her, before the call was disconnected, according to TWC News Rochester.

The 911 dispatcher testified that when he called back the Tan home Liang answered, and apologized for his wife. In the background of the recording, Qing can be heard saying, “No, no, please help me, he almost killed me.”

Terry Cullen, head coach of Cornell’s sprint football team, which Charles Tan was a member of, testified Thursday, saying that Tan seemed “distraught” when he left school on Feb. 5,  according to 13WHAM ABC News.

“He came in to say that he wouldn’t be weightlifting the next morning, which is standard procedure with kids,” Cullen said. “When I asked him why, he kind of broke down; he broke down crying. He said he had to get home… [because of] family problems.”

Another piece of evidence introduced at the trial was an email that he sent to his Chi Phi  brothers several hours before the police arrived at his home, The Ithaca Journal reported.

“In the coming days you’ll start to hear things in the news and possibly get a couple visits from the authorities. Don’t listen to anything you hear,” the email read. “I love you all so much and you have given me the family I never had. … I can only hope I have left a positive impression on all of your lives as well.”