Former MIT researcher who killed Yale graduate student sentenced to 35 years in prison

NEW HAVEN, Conn. (AP) — A former researcher at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology was sentenced Tuesday to 35 years in prison for the killing of a Yale University graduate student found shot outside his car on a Connecticut street.

Qinxuan Pan, 33, who pleaded guilty to murder in February, apologized during a hearing in a New Haven courtroom packed with family and friends of the victim, Kevin Jiang.

“I feel sorry for what my actions caused and for everyone affected,” Pan said. “I fully accept my penalties.”

Jiang, 26, a U.S. Army veteran who grew up in Chicago and a graduate student at Yale's School of the Environment, had just left his fiancée's apartment in New Haven on the evening of Feb. 6, 2021, when he was shot multiple times by Pan, according to police and prosecutors. The couple had just gotten engaged days earlier.

Several of Jiang's relatives and friends spoke in court before the judge handed down the sentence, which Pan agreed to as part of his plea bargain.

“My son was a remarkable young man who cherished life and held deep (belief) in God. He had a bright future ahead — one that promised to spread God’s love far and wide,” said Jiang's father, Mingchen Jiang.

A motive for the killing was never made entirely clear. Investigators said they discovered that Pan and Jiang's fiancée were connected on social media and had met while at MIT, where both had graduated from and where Pan was working as a researcher at the time of the shooting.

According to the documents, Jiang’s fiancée told authorities she and Pan “never had a romantic or sexual relationship, they were just friends, but she did get a feeling that he was interested in her during that time.”

After the shooting, Pan fled the scene and eluded police for three months before being apprehended in Alabama, where officials said he was caught living under a fake name with $19,000 in cash, a passport and several cellphones.