What to Know
- 66-year-old Jeremy Safran was found stabbed to death in the basement of his Prospect Park home Monday evening
- Mirzo Atadzhanov, 28, was found hiding in a nearby closet and has said he was defending himself; he has pleaded not guilty to murder
- It's not clear if the victim and suspect knew each other prior to the deadly attack
The 28-year-old man accused of killing a well-known professor in his Brooklyn home earlier this week pleaded not guilty to murder in other crimes in court Wednesday as authorities revealed the victim had been stabbed to death.
Officials say a knife was recovered in the trunk of the car belonging to suspect Mirzo Atadzhanov, who was found hiding in a basement closet when cops responded to a 911 call about the Monday evening attack.
Atadzhanov has claimed he was defending himself, but offered no details in his explanation. His hands were cut, and his attorney asked a judge for medical treatment for him.
The victim, 66-year-old Jeremy Safran, had been found badly beaten, his body surrounded by a hammer and other tools. Authorities say he had been stabbed five times in the stomach and chest and that's what killed him.
It's not clear if the suspect and victim knew each other, according to police. No possible motive was offered in court Wednesday.
A neighbor of Safran in Prospect Park, Doreen Giuliano -- who is the mother of the so-called "Grid Kid" murder convict John Giuca -- told reporters she noticed a suspicious man at the house Monday. She wondered at first if the family had hired someone to work on the house and texted Safran's wife, who was inside the house with her daughter at the time.
Then, when the man went to put something in the trunk of his car and went back into the house, "I said, 'You have a man in your house,'" Giuliano said, prompting Safran's wife to call 911.
Safran's wife and teenage daughter emerged from the home but apparently didn't realize Jeremy Safran was inside the basement.
"All along we were talking on the lawn, he was laying on the basement floor," said an emotional Giuliano.
Giuliano called Safran, a father of two, "the most kindest, sweetest people" ever.
Safran was an internationally renowned professor of psychology and former co-chair of the Department of Psychology at The New School, according to a spokeswoman, who said he was "deeply respected and admired by The New School community and his colleagues throughout the psychology profession for his work on psychoanalytic theory and practice."
Neighbors of Atadzhanov in Brighton Beach, where his building superintendent said he live with his parents and brother, said they were in disbelief.
"It’s shocking, you see your neighbors, you think you know them, and you hear something like that it’s unbelievable," said Dawn Ahee.