This morning, October 7, in San Diego Superior Court, a Los Angeles man admitted murdering his mother in her million-dollar Solana Beach home nearly five years ago.
Brian Chang, now 33, pleaded guilty to first-degree murder, premeditated and deliberated, in the death of Sherry Chu Chang, 60.
Most of the woman’s body was found downstairs in her home in January 2010. Some of the victim’s skull was found in a bedside table upstairs, and other parts were found wrapped in plastic in her refrigerator.
“The balance of the allegations were dismissed in return for the plea,” said prosecutor Rachel Solov, in a statement released today. The district attorney’s office previously charged Brian Chang with special allegations of murder for financial gain, torture, and personal use of weapon during the crime.
(The spelling of the defendant’s name recently changed from Bryan Chenhua Chang.)
At a preliminary hearing two years ago, evidence suggested that a baseball bat may have been used to cause the fatal injuries found on Sherry Chang’s body. The medical examiner testified that dismemberment of the body had occurred after death.
Private defense attorney Kathleen Cannon will go forward this month with a sanity trial; the burden of proof rests with the defense in this kind of trial. Potential jurors will be asked to fill out a questionnaire, and this jury selection is set to begin October 17. Attorneys are predicting the sanity trial could last three or four weeks.
The defendant has undergone numerous mental competency examinations since he was taken into custody, two days after his mother’s body was found. He was arrested at his Santa Monica apartment.
At a prior hearing, sheriff’s investigators testified that Brian Chang told them he had some kind of mental breakdown, that he suffered “blackouts,” and that he had previously seen a psychiatrist.