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UNC shooting suspect's attorneys argue he is unfit to stand trial

Tailei Qi appeared in Superior Court on Tuesday. His defense attorneys argued that he isn't mentally fit to stand trial.

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. — The UNC graduate student accused of killing his professor made his first appearance in Superior Court on Tuesday. 

Police said Tailei Qi shot and killed his professor, Zijie Yan, on campus.

Qi has been in jail without bond and underwent a mental health evaluation, which, local attorney, Jason Keith said is standard protocol in first degree murder cases. 

"In any criminal proceeding, you have to show that the person is mentally competent to stand trial so every criminal case requires an element of intent, and intent, is a mental mindset," Keith said. 

Qi's defense attorneys addressed his mental health during Tuesday's court proceedings, saying he is unfit to stand trial based on an expert's evaluation. 

The state motioned to have him sent to Central Regional Hospital in Butner to be evaluated by the state, which the judge granted. Central Regional Hospital (CRH) is one of three State psychiatric hospitals in North Carolina.

Keith said in cases where mental capacity is in question, someone cannot go on trial unless a court first determines they are mentally capable. 

Qi will stay at the hospital until his next court date, set for November 14. 

Qi also spoke in court Tuesday on his own behalf. 

Qi's lawyer told the judge that Qi was also requesting someone else to represent him in this case but it was decided in court that it wasn't the appropriate time to address that request at this time. 

A grand jury indicted Qi on felony charges, including first-degree murder and bringing a gun on educational property. 


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