Tailei Qi, the suspect charged with the first-degree murder of UNC professor Zijie Yan on Aug. 28, made his second court appearance and his first in superior court at the Orange County Courthouse on Tuesday morning. The clerk of the superior court has not yet received an indictment.
Qi has been charged with both first-degree murder and having a gun on educational property. The first-degree murder charge carries a maximum sentence of the death penalty and a minimum sentence of life without parole. District Attorney Jeff Nieman said after Qi's first appearance that he would not be seeking the death penalty.
The defense will make a motion later on Tuesday that Qi is not competent to proceed with further appearances. Qi has been evaluated by a doctor sought out by the defense, the defense lawyer said, and the report will be filed under seal.
The state moved for a state-led evaluation on Qi's capacity to proceed at Central Regional Hospital, which the judge ordered to be recorded following a request from the defense, despite concerns that it might impact the work of the medical professionals doing the evaluation.
Nieman said after the hearing that this second evaluation is commonplace.
Qi spoke in court for the first time since his arrest. He pleaded for new counsel and said the second medical evaluation was not necessary. Allen Baddour, the judge presiding over the case, urged Qi not to speak without conferring with his counsel — Qi spoke to the judge anyway.