Criminal Justice

Man pleads guilty to attempted murder in attack on law professor

Initially found unfit to stand trial, an Illinois man pleaded guilty on Monday to attempted first-degree murder for attacking a law professor with a knife at a downstate train station in 2011.

Joshua Scaggs, 26, could get as much as 20 years when he is sentenced in the Champaign County Circuit Court case. His victim, University of Illinois law professor Anurudha Dharmapala, 44, was seriously injured in the unprovoked attack in Champaign, where he was waiting to take a train to Chicago, the News-Gazette reports.

Assistant state’s attorney Steve Ziegler said the two men had not interacted before Scaggs suddenly stood up, approached the seated Dharmapala from behind, told him something along the lines of “This is my country. I’m going to kill you,” and then slit the law prof’s throat. Drug use may have played a role in the attack, according to the newspaper.

Dharmapoula told the News-Gazette he had to have multiple surgeries.

“This is clearly a racially motivated attack and unfortunately, in all the discussion of mental health issues, that basic fact has tended to get lost,” he said.

Dharmapoula, who is of Sri Lankan descent, is a naturalized U.S. citizen.

See also: “U of I Law Prof Is Severely Injured by Knife-Wielding Attacker in Possible Hate Crime”

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