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University of North Carolina shooting suspect deemed unfit to stand trial

Nov. 27 (UPI) -- The doctoral student charged with the murder of a University of North Carolina associate professor in August is incapable of standing trial due to mental illness, a judge ruled Monday.

Orange County, N.C., Superior Court Judge Alyson Grine ruled that Tailei Qi, accused of slaying UNC applied physical science professor Zijie Yan, is suffering from severe mental illnesses and tried to harm himself in jail, WRAL-TV, Raleigh, and The News & Observer reported.

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In making her ruling, the judge cited a psychiatric evaluation supplied by a state-appointed doctor, which concurred with an earlier finding by a psychologist hired by Qi's defense.

"The defendant, Mr. Qi, demonstrated delusional thinking, experienced auditory hallucinations, engaged in self-harm in the detention center and showed fragmented thought processes and that impeded his communication," the report stated.

Rather than continuing to trial, Grine ordered that Qi be committed to a mental health facility for treatment with the understanding that should his condition improve, a murder trial may then proceed.

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Prosecutors say Qi, 34, was carrying a 9mm handgun when he was arrested after the fatal shooting of his adviser, Yan, 38. An autopsy revealed the professor had been shot seven times.

The killing inside Caudill Laboratories sent the UNC campus into lockdown as students cowered in classrooms a week into the fall semester.

In addition to first-degree murder charges, Qi also stands accused of a misdemeanor firearm possession on educational property.

He enrolled at UNC in 2022 after earning a master's degree at Louisiana State University.

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