A jury today found a former engineer accused of killing three managers at a Santa Clara semiconductor firm in 2008 guilty of three counts of first degree-murder and next will decide if he was insane when he committed the murders. Jing Hua Wu, a one-time testing engineer for SiPort, Inc., looked on impassively in Santa Clara County Superior Court in San Jose as a court clerk read the jury’s verdict convicting him of murdering three people after he had been fired from a job.
The jurors also convicted Wu on three special circumstance charges for using a firearm in the killings, which along with his first-degree murder convictions makes him eligible to receive the death penalty or life imprisonment without parole. Wu, 51, had pleaded not guilty to the murder and special circumstance charges in the shooting deaths of SiPort CEO Sid Agrawal, 56; the firm’s vice president Brian Pugh, 47; and its human resources manager Marilyn Lewis, 67. The jury decided that Wu shot and killed the three people after bringing a 9mm handgun into a meeting in Agrawal’s office during which prosecutors said Wu begged unsuccessfully for his job back on Nov. 14, 2008.
After the guilty verdicts, the trial today shifted to a second phase with the defense trying to convince jurors that Wu was not guilty because he was legally insane at the time he shot the three victims. The second phase is expected to extend the proceedings into Monday, when defense attorney Tony Serra said he would introduce new physical evidence — including Wu’s urine-stained underwear at the time of his 2008 arrest — to bolster his case for insanity. Judge Sharon A. Chatman told jurors that the second phase meant the case had entered into “a whole new trial” and they must decide if Wu is not guilty by reason of a mental disease or defect that rendered him incapable of making a decision during the crimes.
The jury has to consider whether Wu’s mental defect at the time he shot the victims rendered him unable to distinguish the difference between right and wrong, legally and morally, based on a preponderance of the evidence, Chatman said. Serra began the sanity phase by calling as a witness Dr. Pedro Stewart, a psychiatrist from the University of California, San Francisco, who testified for the defense in the trial’s first phase. Stewart said he interviewed Wu for about 10 or 12 hours and concluded that the defendant suffered a “brief psychotic disorder” during the murders and he could not distinguish what was legally right and wrong or morally right or wrong. “It was my opinion that at the time of this crime he met the statutory requirements for insanity,” Stewart said. “I believe he was in a state of psychosis.”