A mentally ill man was charged today with stabbing his stepfather to death after the victim celebrated his wedding anniversary with the defendant’s mother, according to the Santa Clara County District Attorney’s Office. Daniel Hsaio, 22, dressed in yellow jail attire, appeared in Superior Court in San Jose today before Judge Hector Ramon, who ordered him held at the county jail without bail and scheduled a plea hearing for Sept. 17. Hsaio, who has undergone treatment for mental illness, on Saturday grabbed a knife from the kitchen of his parents’ Almaden Valley home in San Jose and attacked his stepfather in a bedroom, Deputy District Attorney Dan Fehderau said.
The defendant stabbed the victim, 55-year-old Ian Leighton, while standing behind him and also cut his mother’s hand as she tried to stop him, Fehderau said. San Jose police received an emergency call at 6:02 p.m. Saturday at 6692 Charter Oak Place from Hsaio’s mother, Ying Cui, who said her son had “gone crazy and stabbed” Leighton, according to a statement of facts filed by police Detective Brian McDonald. Paramedics transported Leighton to Santa Clara Valley Medical Center where he was pronounced dead at 6:54 p.m., McDonald reported. Cui told police that after stabbing Leighton, Hsaio fled to the Los Alamitos Trail near Camden Avenue.
An officer went to the trail in the area of Camden and Graystone Lane and found Hsaio, whose hands and clothes were covered in blood, and arrested him, according to police. The defendant’s mother informed police that her son suffered from schizophrenia and had been in and out of jail. Hsaio had been living with Cui and Leighton since last November and on Saturday, the couple went to celebrate their sixth wedding anniversary. When they turned home, they found that Hsaio was gone and that he had stolen an iPod from them, police said.
They soon located Hsaio at the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority’s Ohlone-Chynoweth light rail station nearby in San Jose. Cui said she threatened to call police if Hsaio did not return home with them. He complied and got into the couple’s vehicle, but on the way home, he started becoming hostile with Leighton, yelling at him, leaning forward and appearing to try to attack him several times, police said. After arriving home, Leighton went upstairs and Cui and Hsaio into the kitchen, according to police. Cui said she then began to fix some food for Hsaio in an attempt to calm him down, but while she was distracted, he took a knife from the kitchen and attacked Leighton, stabbing him multiple times in a bedroom, Fehderau said.
“It appears that it was a surprise from behind,” Fehderau said. Cui told police she heard screaming upstairs and saw Hsaio on top of Leighton in the hallway and holding a large kitchen knife. She attempted to place herself in front of Leighton to prevent the attack, and grabbed her son’s hand to take the knife away. She then pushed Hsaio backwards, walked him down the stairs, pushed him back into the kitchen, then went outside the house to call 911 and assist Leighton, who was outside after walking down the stairs, according to police. Leighton then collapsed just outside the doorway, Cui told officers.
Her son ran from the backyard to the front yard where Leighton had fallen, still armed with the knife. Cui then pushed her son down and took the knife away, noticing that in the struggle she received a cut to her right pinky finger. Hsaio then fled the scene, according to police. Hsaio’s state of mental health appears to be a factor in the attack but the significance of that to the case remains to be seen, Fehderau said.
His parents were both involved with assisting him in getting treatment and Hsaio was actively engaged in receiving medication and care from a doctor for his illness, Fehderau said. The defendant has had other pending criminal cases unrelated to Saturday’s attack, he said.
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