A sophomore at Cornell University appeared in court on Friday to face charges that he murdered his father, a successful CEO. More than 100 supporters of the student were in attendance in the Pittsford Town Court courtroom, and his lawyer claims that the family had suffered from abuse by the father for a long time.
Police were called to the Tan house in Pittsford, N.Y., on Monday night after receiving a domestic incident report for the residence. The body of Ling Tan, 49, was discovered by responding officers. During a search of the house on Tuesday morning, police recovered a shotgun in the garage, which they believe was used to murder Ling Tan.
The sheriff’s office in Monroe County claims that Charles Tan, 19, shot his father with a shotgun on Monday night at approximately 6 p.m. The elder Tan reportedly suffered injuries to his arm, chest, face and neck.
The murder occurred in the family home on Coach Side Lane in suburban Rochester, N.Y. Ling Tan was CEO and president of Dynamax Imaging in Canandaigua. Charles Tan is a student in Cornell’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.
James Nobles is representing Charles Tan. Nobles claims that his client was abused by his father, who also abused his wife and another son. He described the abuse as “longstanding” and said that violence was common in the household. According to the attorney, who claims to have seen police reports dated as far back as 2008, police have been called to the Tan home several times for “instances of domestic violence.” In addition, Nobles claims that Charles Tan’s mother, Qing Tan, was recently granted an order of protection against Ling Tan.
The Tan family has seen what Nobles calls an “outpouring of support” from neighbors and family friends. The lawyer also said that the same people supporting the family now have witnessed incidents across the years which led them to believe that there was longstanding abuse within the family – abuse which Nobles believes could date back to the very beginning of the Tans’ marriage some 24 years ago. Nobles describes the abuse as “physical, mental, emotional, financial, every type.” He would not comment on whether Charles Tan had shot his father in self-defense.
Kareem Tawil, a high school classmate of Charles Tan, spoke to the Democrat & Chronicle, saying, “He’s just a great kid.” He added that the majority of their classmates were feeling somewhat responsible for what happened, because they had suspected that “his home life wasn’t that good.”
Because Charles Tan has been indicted by a grand jury on second degree murder charges, the case will move from the Pittsford Town Court to Monroe County Court. Town courts do not handle felonies. Because of the grand jury decision, Charles Tan’s preliminary hearing did not go forward. As he left court on Friday, he was greeted by shouts of encouragement.
William Gargan, assistant district attorney, believes that the felony charges will be made public soon. When that happens, Charles Tan will be indicted on the new charges.
In the meantime, one of Charles Tan’s high school classmates has initiated a fundraiser in order to help with his legal defense against the murder charges. To date, nearly $50,000 has been raised. Charles Tan remains in custody without bail.
By Jennifer Pfalz