/ Modified feb 22, 2023 10:02 a.m.

No change of venue for man accused of killing UArizona professor

Lawyers argues that the case's high public interest makes finding an impartial jury problematic.

Meixner pilar on UA campus A black pilar that says "How many will be enough" stands in the middle of the University of Arizona Mall one week after the killing of Professor Thomas Meixner on campus. A few days prior university officials held a candlelight vigil where the pilar stands.
Paola Rodriguez/Arizona Public Media

A judge has denied a change of venue motion for a man accused of fatally shooting a University of Arizona professor on campus last October.

During a court hearing Tuesday, Murad Dervish’s attorneys said their client’s right to an impartial jury would be threatened if the trial was held in Tucson because of high public interest.

Pima County Superior Court Judge Howard Fell denied the motion after prosecutors said they believed the jury selection process would weed out any extreme prejudice in the case.

The trial is tentatively scheduled for Sept. 19.

Dervish has a status conference scheduled for May 8 with a pre-trial conference on Aug. 1.

The 46-year-old Dervish is accused of killing Dr. Thomas Meixner, who was the head of the university’s hydrology department and an expert on desert water issues.

Dervish had been a graduate student in the hydrology program before he was banned from the school in January 2022 and expelled six months later.

School officials said they took steps to keep Dervish off campus, including seeking charges for threats Dervish allegedly made against Meixner and others.

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