Photo credit: Wiki Commons
Photo credit: Wiki Commons

Updated at 12:30 p.m., Jan. 13, 2015

A mentally ill man who killed his mother in her Solana Beach home and partially dismembered her body after she quit supporting him financially was sentenced Tuesday to 25 years to life in prison.

Bryan Chang, 33, pleaded guilty to first-degree murder last October in the January 2010 death of 60-year-old Sherry Chu Chang. Jurors then determined that the defendant was sane at the time of the murder.

Before handing down the sentence, Judge Harry Elias denied a motion for new trial, rejecting defense attorney Kathleen Cannon’s contention that the jury “got it wrong.”

At the time of the murder, Chang was “very sick,” she said. He was “spiraling into a severe mental illness” and was delusional because he wasn’t getting treatment for his paranoid schizophrenia, Cannon told the judge.

Cannon said Chang had a “psychotic break” from reality and exhibited and “extreme degree of violence” when he attacked his mother with a hammer and used a knife to cut off her right arm. A piece of the victim’s skull was found in a drawer.

“He just destroyed her, he didn’t kill her,” Cannon said in arguing that Chang was insane at the time of the killing.

Elias, in denying the motion for a new trial, agreed that Chang was mentally ill, but said his statements to police — denying any involvement in his mother’s murder — showed that he knew right from wrong.

Cannon said Chang has over the past two years received medical injection treatment that has helped him understand what he did.

Deputy District Attorney Rachel Solov noted the prosecution presented two experts who said Chang was sane at the time of the murder.

Chang told detectives he “had no reason to hurt” his mother, according to Solov.

The prosecutor read a letter from the victim’s niece, saying Chang’s actions have left her family broken-hearted.

“It is something no family should ever experience,” the niece wrote.

The victim’s body was found Jan. 25, 2010, at her home after she didn’t show up for work. Her son was arrested two nights later at his home in Los Angeles.

Sherry Chu Chang had 75 wounds, including blows to her arm, back and scalp, Solov said.

Solov said Bryan Chang killed his mother in “cold blood,” then tried to clean up the mess before leaving.

Sherry Chang’s credit card was used after she was killed, and about $2,000 was taken from her purse, according to testimony.

City News Service