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Short Takes: Hopkins Student Sentenced in College Republicans Killing

By Dan McGuire
Executive Editor

Johns Hopkins University student Robert Harwood Jr. was sentenced to 35 years in prison after pleading guilty to a second-degree murder and weapons charge in the shooting death of fellow student Rex Chao.

His defense attorney read a letter to the court in which Harwood expressed remorse for killing his "dear friend." Harwood, who was valedictorian of his high school class and received a scholarship to attend Hopkins, will be eligible for parole in 20 years.

Chao and Harwood were friends until Chao met Suzanne Hubbard, who played the flute in the University's orchestra. Harwood was reportedly upset by the relationship.

To try to prevent Chao from becoming the president of the College Republicans, Harwood circulated a pamphlet accusing him of using drugs and committing sexual assault. The club dismissed the charges and elected Chao.

After the meeting, Harwood followed Chao to a grove of trees. He pulled out a handgun and shot Chao in the back of the head. He then flipped Chao over with his foot and fired another shot into his chest.

Harwood was initially charged with first-degree murder, but after psychiatric evaluations indicated that Harwood suffered from obsessive compulsive personality disorder, prosecutors downgraded the charges.

[The Johns Hopkins News-Letter, July 17]

Betas lease Dartmouth house

Trustees of the Beta Theta Pi fraternity rejected Dartmouth College's bid to lease the groups now-vacant house.

Eight months ago Dartmouth College derecognized Beta Theta Pi, citing violations of an earlier agreement prohibiting the use of alcohol and chasing and attacking a member of another fraternity.

The Beta house has been vacant since December. It is slated to re-open during the winter after renovations being done now are completed.

Several months ago the Beta alumni corporation invited several parties, including Dartmouth, to lease the house. A Beta spokesman previously told The Dartmouth that the Beta corporation decided to lease the house because maintaining the house had become a financial drain.

Lee Pelton, the dean of the college, said that Dartmouth had offered to lease the house but that the offer had been rejected. Pelton said in December that if the Beta corporation offered to sell the house, the College would attempt to buy it.

A spokesman for the Beta alumni corporation said that the corporation is not planning to sell the house. The lease will be temporary until the Trustees and Dartmouth can find a way to reinstate Beta, the spokesman said.

Several groups are working to lease the house, including the newly affiliated Alpha Xi Delta sorority.

[The Dartmouth, Aug. 20]

No answers in Harvard death

The family of Fung Lam has hired the Providence law firm of Corrente, Brill, and Kusinitz to investigate his death. Lam, a first year graduate student in the chemistry department, died in February. Lam was found unconscious on the floor of his laboratory and died two days later at Massachusetts General Hospital.

A final coroner's report has yet to be released, frustrating attempts to determine the cause of death. Harvard's Environmental Health and Safety division investigation of the death said that "there appeared to be no chemicals or other hazards that were in use at the time," said the EHS director Hugh Joseph Griffin.

Tests indicated that Lam's body contained sodium azide, a compound that he used in his experiments. Professor of Organic Chemistry Elias J. Corey, who taught Lam, said that such a conclusion, if confirmed, would be "very strange" because the compound would have to be ingested to enter the bloodstream.

Corey said that the had heard suggestions that Lam might have suffered a stroke. "A deep down medical problem is the only explanation that makes sense to me," he said.

Friends of Lam said that he was "extremely kind and gentle."

[The Crimson, Aug. 8]