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Charges tossed for fmr. Cornell Univ. student accused of killing father

ROCHESTER, N.Y. -- Murder charges against a former Ivy League student accused of shooting his business executive father inside the family's western New York home were dismissed Thursday after a judge said prosecutors failed to prove the son fired the fatal shots.

In tossing out the charges against 20-year-old Charles Tan, Monroe County Court Judge James Piampiano said Assistant District Attorney William Gargan didn't prove Tan wielded the shotgun used to kill his father, 49-year-old Liang "Jim" Tan.

Piampiano announced his decision during what had been scheduled as a hearing to determine when Tan's next murder trial would start. Tan's trial ended in a mistrial last month after jurors failed to reach a verdict.

A supporter hugged the smiling Tan as he left the courtroom. He didn't speak to reporters.

"There was no forensic evidence that connected our client to this case," James Nobles, Tan's defense attorney, said after the dismissal.

Tan was charged in February after sheriff's deputies called to the family's home in an upscale neighborhood in Pittsford, a Rochester suburb, found his father dead from multiple shotgun wounds. The elder Tan owned an imaging technology company in nearby Canandaigua.

Prosecutors said Charles Tan killed his father because he was abusive to his wife. The younger man was enrolled at Cornell University in Ithaca, New York, at the time of the slaying.

The judge's decision to dismiss the charges incensed Gargan and District Attorney Sandra Doorley. Gargan said Piampiano failed to look at the evidence presented during the trial. Doorley said her office is researching whether the decision can be appealed, she said.

During the trial, prosecutors said Charles Tan called a high school friend in early February and had him purchase a shotgun at a Wal-Mart in Cortland, near Ithaca. Authorities said Tan's mother, Qing "Jean" Tan called 911 on Feb. 9 to report that her son had shot her husband.

When deputies arrived, they discovered Jim Tan had been shot as he sat behind a desk in the second-floor office of the family home he also shared with his wife and their younger son. Charles Tan was arraigned on second-degree murder charges the next day.