Courtesy of NHPD

Qinxuan Pan has been deemed competent to stand trial for the suspected murder of Kevin Jiang ENV ’22 nearly two years ago.

Pan’s attorney, Norm Pattis, first asked the Judge Jon Alander LAW ’78 to order a “competency exam” in September after experiencing difficulties communicating with Pan. 

This test determined if Pan was fit to stand trial by having Pan undergo an evaluation with a state or court-appointed psychiatrist. After reviewing Pan’s test results, State Superior Court Judge Gerald Harmon decided Monday morning that Pan was mentally fit after all. 

Pan’s probable cause hearing is now scheduled to take place on Dec. 5. 

In the September hearing, Pattis had told Judge Alander that Pan was a “communicative challenge” and that he could not obtain “a straight answer” from him. 

Pan, a researcher at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, evaded police for months after Jiang was found shot dead in New Haven’s East Rock neighborhood. After being named a person of interest in the case, Pan’s evasion triggered a months-long manhunt as he fled with seven cellphones, $19,000 in cash and his father’s passport. Investigators tracked him down in Georgia where he was arrested and charged with murder in May 2021.  

After the arrest, judges granted Pan and his attorney multiple extensions to review evidence. Pan’s lawyer claimed that Pan was having difficulty reading through documents related to the case because Pan had limited access to the prison library. 

Just when Jiang’s family and friends had packed the state courthouse for what they thought would be the probable cause hearing in September, Pattis halted the trial by asking for Pan’s competency exam. 

While Pattis acknowledged that Pan was aware of the charges the state brought against him, he told the judge that Pan had been uncooperative. According to Pattis, Pan provided only disjointed details about a potential second person involved in the murder or a different shooter. 

State-hired psychiatrists and social workers filed their sealed assessment of Pan for the competency exam on Nov. 2. 

Sophie Sonnenfeld is Managing Editor of the Yale Daily News. She previously served as City Editor and covered cops and courts as a beat reporter. She is a junior in Branford College double majoring in political science and anthropology.