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The defense attorney seems to be angling for an insanity plea, while the prosecutor is charging the special circumstances of murder for financial gain and torture, in the case against Bryan Chenhua Chang.
The 31-year-old Los Angeles man is accused of battering his mother to death in her million dollar, ocean-view home in Solana Beach, January 2010. There is speculation as to whether it might have been a claw hammer or a baseball bat that was used, according to statments made in court. A murder weapon has not been recovered, investigators said.
Sherry Chu Chang, 60, was financially supporting her adult son, but had become disillusioned by his bad behavior and was threatening to cut him off, according to prosecutor Rachel Solov.
A series of emails from mother to son were entered into evidence during a multi-day preliminary hearing in a San Diego County courtroom.
One email from Sherry Chang to her son was sent January 8 2010, and read in part: “In recent two days, you withdraw $2,200 in cash. I can’t make money that fast. I will just let your check bounce next time if you have excessive withdrawal…”
San Diego Sheriff’s deputies found Sherry’s partially dismembered body in her home after a co-worker became concerned when she did not show up for work on a Monday morning, January 25, 2010.
Privately retained defense attorney Kathleen Cannon told a judge today, “It is clear that Bryan Chang suffers from a severe mental illness.” The attorney said that son Bryan had been hospitalized for mental health reasons, and had mentioned his “schizophrenia” to his parents, before the killing.
Prosecutor Rachel Solov called the defendant’s statements about his mental health “self-serving” and pointed out that Bryan only brought up his alleged mental problems after detectives told him he was being arrested for the murder of his mother.
Judge Aaron Katz found sufficient evidence to order Bryan Chang to trial on charges of murder for financial gain and torture. The special allegations make the defendant eligible for the death penalty, but this decision has not yet been announced by the District Attorney’s office. Byran Chang’s next court date is set for January 29, 2013, in San Diego’s North County Superior Courthouse.
Photo by Bob Weatherston