Yale Daily News

Qinxuan Pan, the MIT grad student accused of murdering Kevin Jiang ENV ’22, is now being represented by the controversial New Haven-based defense attorney Norm Pattis. 

Pattis and fellow attorney Kevin Smith represented Pan at a Tuesday court appearance, in which state Superior Court Judge Gerald Harmon continued the case until Oct. 29. Pan is charged by the state with shooting and killing Jiang in February. Previously represented by Hartford-based attorney William Gerace, Pan is now represented by a new attorney with a history of representing high-profile and widely ridiculed defendants. 

“How could you not take this case?” Pattis responded to reporters when asked why he took the case after Tuesday’s hearing, according to the New Haven Independent. “The world’s decided he’s guilty. There’s an alternative story to tell, a different perspective. Why wouldn’t you take this case?”

Pattis represented right-wing radio host Alex Jones in an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court in 2020. Jones, a notable conspiracy theorist, was sued for defamation by relatives of those killed in the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting after he pushed the lie that the shooting was a hoax. Pattis also represented Fotis Dulos, the Connecticut real estate developer who was charged with murdering his estranged wife Jennifer Dulos in 2020. Connecticut Magazine described Pattis as “Connecticut’s most colorful and controversial lawyer” in 2020. 

During Tuesday’s court appearance, Pattis said he had received evidence related to the case from the state’s attorney’s office earlier that day and would need a few weeks to review the items, according to the Independent. Harmon granted Pattis permission to share the evidence with Pan through the library at the Cheshire Correctional Institution. The case was continued to Oct. 29, when the date for a probable cause hearing will potentially be scheduled. 

The Connecticut Supreme Court is still considering whether Pan’s $20 million bond, a potentially record-setting amount for the state, is reasonable under Connecticut law, according to the New Haven Register. Justices began reviewing the case in September after Pan appealed the bond, arguing that the amount was unconstitutional “in that it is disproportionately high, he has limited financial resources and no international ties, and he has indicated that he is amenable to residing in Connecticut and being subject to electronic monitoring and/or house arrest if released on bond.”

New Haven Superior Court Judge Brian Fischer originally set the $20 million bond for Pan after prosecutors cited the apparent wealth of Pan’s family and his flight risk after eluding authorities earlier in the spring. Judge Harmon upheld the $20 million bail in July after the Connecticut Supreme Court ordered a review of the bond. 

In an interview after the court appearance, Pattis questioned the strength of the case and said that “there are substantial questions about the identity of the shooter,” according to the Independent. He noted that witnesses had initially reported individuals of other races as being involved with the incident. 

“Our view is the case is not as strong as the warrant looks,” Pattis told reporters according to the Register.

Police named Pan as a person of interest on Feb. 10 and obtained a warrant charging him with Jiang’s death in late February. After a three-month-long search, Pan was found and arrested in Montgomery, Alabama on May 14. He was charged with one count of felony murder. The police also said they found connections between the bullets fired at Jiang’s homicide and the bullets used in other shootings around that time in the New Haven area. 

Pan is currently being detained at Cheshire Correctional Institution in Cheshire, New Haven County, Connecticut.

Sai Rayala reports on Yale-New Haven relations. She previously covered climate and environmental efforts in New Haven. Originally from Powell, Ohio, she is a sophomore in Timothy Dwight College majoring in History.