Putting the Victim on Trial

A California shooting yields a tale of sex and intrigue

When Edward Cooperman, a professor of physics at California State University, Fullerton was found dead in his office last October, shot in the neck by a .25-cal. pistol that lay in his hand, police at first suspected suicide. Several hours later, they arrested the man who reported the crime, Minh Van Lam, 21, a Vietnamese immigrant and former student of Cooperman's. Lam later admitted shooting the gray-haired professor, but insisted it was an accident that happened while the two of them were "playing around" with the pistol at Cooperman's suggestion.

As Lam's murder trial begins next week, however, the focus will...

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