Former Cornell student tells court why he killed his father

November 21, 2019 GMT

SYRACUSE, N.Y. (AP) — A former Cornell University student is telling a federal judge why he killed his father, although the murder case against the son was dropped after a jury deadlocked.

In court papers filed this month, Charles Tan chronicles a lifelong family history of domestic violence that he believes was relevant at his sentencing but not fully presented. He describes how he got a shotgun through a friend, left Cornell and drove to his parents’ suburban Rochester home to kill his father in February 2015 after his mother had told him about being choked unconscious by her husband, making her fear for her life.

“I entered my parents’ home through the back door, walked upstairs, turned into my father’s office and shot my father three times as he was sitting at his desk. I knew I had killed him,” Tan wrote in the five-page letter to U.S. District Judge Frederick Scullin in Syracuse.

After the shooting, Tan said he fled to Canada with plans to escape to China. But he returned home, fearing his mother and brother might be blamed for the murder. His mother called police and reported that he had killed his father to protect her.

His trial ended in a hung jury later that year, but Tan pleaded guilty to federal weapons charges in 2018 and was sentenced to 20 years in prison.

His new court papers were filed as part of a bid for a shorter prison term. Tan’s new lawyers maintain his prior attorneys were ineffective.

The court will address the request in March.