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Murder Charge for Binghamton University Grad Student

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By Kamika Dunlap on December 14, 2009 11:50 AM

A graduate student accused of fatally stabbing a retired professor at Binghamton University has been charged with second-degree murder.

The student, Abdulsalam al-Zahrani, 46, was charged in the death of Richard T. Antoun, who was stabbed in his office in the university's Science I building, according to the New York Times.

Authorities said Antoun, the retired professor and specialist in Islamic and Middle Eastern studies, knew al-Zahrani through his graduate studies work in the program.

Antoun served on the dissertation committee for Zahrani, who is from Saudi Arabia.

Gerald F. Mollen, the district attorney declined to discuss many details of the case in a telephone interview with the New York Times, only saying that an autopsy performed on Dr. Antoun showed that he died of multiple stab wounds.

Antoun received a doctorate from Harvard in 1963 and authored several books, including "Understanding Fundamentalism: Christian, Islamic, and Jewish Movements."

A professor emeritus in anthropology, Antoun, joined the BU faculty in 1976. He was a well-regarded scholar.

BU's web site states that the retired professor had specialties including comparative religion and symbolic systems, and the social organization of tradition in Islamic law and ethics.

The Broome County district attorney's office is continuing its investigation into the incident.

Currently, al-Zahrani being held without bail at the Broome County Sheriff's Correctional Facility after his arraignment in Town Court in Vestal, N.Y.

According to the district attorney, there's no indication of religious or ethnic motivation in the attack.

It also is unknown whether al-Zahrani has an attorney.

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