Charles Tan, 19, is accused of killing his father

The trial of a Cornell University sophomore charged with murdering his father begins in the Rochester area on Monday.

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Charles Tan, 19, was charged with second-degree murder in the Monroe County town of Pittsford and arrested in February. At the time, he was a student in Cornell’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.

Jim Tan, the father, was found dead in their home with multiple gunshot wounds. NBC reported that Jim Tan was the president and CEO of Dynamax Imaging in Canandaigua.

Charles Tan drew significant community support — and hundreds of donations totaling over $45,000 for his legal defense — particularly after Tan’s attorney James Nobles said publicly that there was a history of domestic abuse in the home.

Charles Tan, 19, is accused of killing his father

“We’re doing our own investigation, but one thing that’s certainly clear is a history of domestic violence in that home for more than twenty years,” Nobles told WHAM radio

Additionally, Monroe County Sheriff’s Deputy Christopher Cooper said Tan told Cooper that the father “was upstairs and that he had to do it because he was going to kill his mom,” according to the Rochester Democrat & Chronicle.

News later emerged that Tan purchased the shotgun used in the killing at a Walmart in Cortland.

WHEC Rochester reports that prosecutors are expected to request that the jurors be taken to the scene of the crime; Nobles, Tan’s attorney, disagreed with that request.

“It’s pretty clear that this is an extreme and unusual situation. It only happens when there’s no other way for the jurors to understand the layout. And certainly we have over 400 photographs of the house. We have video of the house. We have a two scale sketch drawn of the house,” Nobles said, according to WHEC Rochester. “So given all those things, there’s no reason to go there.”

Corporal Helfer gave the following account of the incident to the Ithaca Voice in February:

At around 6:10 p.m., deputies responded to 37 Coach Side Lane in the town of Pittsford for a domestic incident. As they were responding, they learned that a person had been shot.

Arriving at the scene, law enforcement found Charles Tan and Qing Tan, 56, standing in the driveway.

Ling Tan, 49, was then found dead in the home. (Ling Tan is the father of Charles Tan and the husband of Qing Tan.)

Deputies canvassed the area, interviewed witnesses and neighbors, then executed a search warrant on the house.

A shotgun was then found in the garage of the house. Charles Tan was arraigned at 6 a.m. Tuesday morning in Pittsford on second-degree murder charges and sent to the Monroe County Jail without bail. (He was later released on bail of $50K, according to multiple reports.)

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Jeff Stein

Jeff Stein is the founder and former editor of the Ithaca Voice.