Russian chess ace is sentenced to 22 years for murdering renowned New School psychology p
The chess ace who bludgeoned and stabbed a world-famous psychology professor to death with a hammer inside the man’s $2.2 million Brooklyn home has been sentenced to 22 years to life in prison.
Mirzo Atadzhanov, 32, was convicted on Thursday for murdering Jeremy D. Safran, 66, on May 7, 2018 after breaking into the professor’s Prospect Park South home, according to the the Brooklyn District Attorney’s office.
He pleaded guilty to first-degree murder on November 4, 2021.
Atadzhanov stabbed Safran, a professor at the New School in New York City, twice in the chest and three times in the stomach as the man was working out in the basement. He reportedly claimed at the time to have done so in self-defense during an argument about immigration.
Atadzhanov also claimed he had been ‘randomly’ asked to do some electrical work, but police later said the two men didn’t know each other, according to the New York Daily News.
He was reportedly found by police, covered in blood inside the closet in Safran’s basement, after Safran’s wife, Jennifer, called 911.
Atadzhanov, who characterized himself as both a professional chess player and a coach, was eventually charged with murder and burglary, according to authorities.
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Mirzo Atadzhanov, center, being sentenced to 22 years for murdering Jeremy Safran in Brooklyn Supreme Court on Thursday, March 3, 2022
Pictured: Atadzhanov, 32, at sentencing in Brooklyn Supreme Court on Thursday
The Memorial service for renowned psychology profession Jeremy Safran, pictured, held at the New School in New York
Pictured: Jeremy and Jennifer Safran. Jennifer had called 911 after her husband was stabbed and bludgeoned to death inside their Brooklyn home back in 2018
‘This defendant broke into the victim’s home and when confronted, senselessly stabbed him to death,’ District Attorney Eric Gonzalez said, per Pix 11.
‘Hopefully, today’s sentence brings a measure of solace to his heartbroken family. The defendant has now been held accountable for his actions.’
Atadzhanov was also allegedly surrounded by several tools when he was found, including a hammer, Pix 11 reported.
Safran died of stab wounds to his torso by the Chief Medical Examiner’s office, AMNY reported.
Atadzhanov claimed to have graduated from Tajik State Medical University in 2012 with a medical degree, and obtained a Master of Science degree in biology from The Brooklyn College in 2017.
‘My goal is to get my doctoral license in cardiology in New York and start my practice. In addition, I’m also enjoying of teaching biology,’ he wrote on his LinkedIn page.
Pictured: the Brooklyn home of Jeremy and Jennifer Safran, where Atadzhanov reportedly hid in the basement before ambushing the 66-year-old and killing him inside the home’s basement
Atadzhanov stabbed Safran, pictured, a professor at the New School, twice in the chest and three times in the stomach as the 66-year-old was working out in the basement
At the time of Safran’s death, Atadzhanov was just two years removed from an arrest for trying to rape a tourist, according to authorities.
In December 2016, Atadzhanov was arrested and charged with the attempted rape, assault and forcible touching of a woman he met on couchsurfing.com, The New York Daily News reported.
The woman, who was 23 at the time, was staying with him and told police she had to fend him off with a knife.
The charges against Atadzhanov did not stick and were dropped at his arraignment.
At the time, family described him as a devout Muslim who was focused on his studies.
Atadzhanov’s mother, Gulya, refused to believe what had happened in a phone interview with the New York Post: ‘This didn’t happen. He didn’t do it. He is a smart boy. He has a masters in biology.
‘He was planning to become a nurse. He was a doctor back in our country, a cardiologist. He was the top chess player in the Republic.
‘I’m just shocked, I don’t know what to think. Burglary? We’re not poor people. We’re educated people. We are decent.’
Safran’s neighbor, Doreen Guiliano, told the New York Daily News she saw an intruder go into the home and immediately messaged Mr. Safran’s wife, Jennifer, to alert her.
‘He parked the car, walked down the block, came back up and went down the alley. Then he got back in his car and sat there for three hours,’ Giuliano said.
‘He came down the alley way and put something in his trunk, and he was looking left to right, left to right, and then he went back and he went in the side door.’
Guiliano said she asked Jennifer Safran if she had a tradesman working on her home, and when she said no, the neighbor told her there was a problem.
Atadzhanov is escorted from the Brooklyn Supreme Courtroom after being sentenced to 22 years to life in prison
She said Jennifer Safran and her daughter, 18, bolted out of the house, and the young woman noticed the basement light go out.
Police were called, and arrived in less than a minute, Guiliano said, where they found Jeremy Safran dead.
Atadzhanov is believed to have followed the Safrans’ daughter to the property, where he briefly spoke to her in an apparent effort to case the home.
Guiliano said she had seen the man lurking in the area for about three hours before he finally entered the Safran family’s home.
Property websites say the home is worth $2,242,180.
‘I saw [Atadzhanov] when he was coming out of the car like he was coming from the supermarket,’ said neighbor Jillian Daniels.
‘It’s shocking because we’ve been here for 24 years… You become so complacent you don’t think about something like this.’
‘It’s appalling,’ another witness said at the scene. ‘It’s a lovely looking neighborhood and it’s a great place to live.
‘But this is New York City and you just can’t drop your guard.’