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Ex-University of Arizona student accused of fatally shooting his professor on campus is indicted

Prosecutors said a grand jury also charged Murad Dervish, 46, with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, possession of a deadly weapon by a prohibited possessor, endangerment and burglary.
Flowers at a makeshift memorial for Dr. Thomas Meixner at the University of Arizona in Tucson on Oct. 8, 2022.
Flowers at a makeshift memorial for Thomas Meixner at the University of Arizona in Tucson on Oct. 8.Joel Angel Juarez / USA Today Network
/ Source: Associated Press

TUCSON, Ariz. — A former University of Arizona graduate student accused of fatally shooting a professor on campus earlier this month has been indicted on seven felony charges including first-degree murder, authorities said.

Pima County prosecutors said a grand jury on Tuesday also charged Murad Dervish with aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, possession of a deadly weapon by a prohibited possessor, endangerment and burglary.

Dervish, 46, is scheduled to be arraigned Monday. He remains held without bond pending a court hearing Thursday.

It was still unclear Wednesday if Dervish has been assigned a public defender for his case.

Dervish is accused of killing Thomas Meixner, who headed the school’s Department of Hydrology and Atmospheric Sciences and was an expert on desert water issues.

Campus police said the Oct. 5 shooting occurred inside the Harshbarger Building, which houses the hydrology department.

The relationship between Dervish and Meixner remains unclear, but a criminal complaint said a flyer with a photograph of Dervish had been circulated to university staff in February with instructions to call 911 if he ever entered the building.

The complaint also said Dervish was “expelled” and “barred from being on University of Arizona property” and he had been the subject of several reports of harassment and threats to staff members working at Harshbarger.

Professor Thomas Meixner.
Professor Thomas Meixner.University of Arizona

In a letter to students and colleagues Monday, university President Robert C. Robbins said campus police tried to get Dervish charged two separate times before the shooting and took the complaints to the county prosecutors but were told there wasn’t enough evidence.

“In neither instance did the facts of the complaint meet the evidentiary requirements for charging (Dervish) with the crime of threats and intimidation at that time,” County Attorney Laura Conover said in a statement.