GU Law Student Slain
Police say friend admitted stabbing Waugh repeatedly
Published: Friday, October 18, 2013
Updated: Friday, October 18, 2013 02:10
Mark Waugh (LAW ’16), 23, was stabbed to death during the early hours of Sunday morning in a long-time friend’s apartment in Silver Spring, Md.
The friend, Rahul Gupta (GRD ’13), a biomedical engineering graduate student at The George Washington University, is charged with second-degree murder for allegedly stabbing Waugh with a kitchen knife after a party celebrating Gupta’s 24th birthday.
Gupta is being held on $2 million bail in the Montgomery County jail. He has pleaded not guilty.
According to testimony from Gupta’s girlfriend, Waugh, Gupta and Gupta’s girlfriend returned to Gupta’s Silver Spring high-rise apartment and continued drinking after going out, when Gupta said he found his girlfriend with Waugh.
“My girl was cheating with my buddy,” Gupta said in the charging papers. “I walked in on them cheating, and I killed my buddy.”
The Montgomery County Police Department reported that at approximately 3:25 a.m. on Oct. 13, local police responded to a 911 call to Gupta’s apartment for “unknown trouble,” where they found Gupta covered in blood. Waugh was unresponsive with seven or eight stab wounds and other superficial wounds.
“This was a vicious attack,” Assistant State Attorney Stephen Chaikin said Tuesday during Gupta’s first day in court.
According to Chaikin, Waugh sustained wounds to his jugular vein, upper chest and back, in addition to a punctured lung. Waugh also had injuries that indicated attempts of self-defense.
“The victim, and it’s obvious by the forensic evidence, defended himself from a savage knife attack,” Chaikin said.
The Georgetown Law community has reacted to Waugh’s death by offering counseling and chaplain services on campus.
“[Waugh] was a bright young man, full of potential,” the Georgetown Law Center said in a media statement. “The Georgetown Law community is shocked and deeply saddened by this tragic loss.”
Several aspects of the night, however, are still unclear.
According to WJLA, Reginald Bours III, Gupta’s lawyer, questioned the accuracy of the police report that claimed that Gupta said, “I walked in on them cheating, and I killed my buddy.”
Bours said that he had no knowledge of any cheating and added that the statement did not make sense because all three people were in the studio apartment at the same time.
“That did not happen. I have no idea how they got that or how they attribute him to saying that,” Bours told WJLA. “There’s got to be confusion on somebody’s part.”
Gupta’s girlfriend, who has thus far been unnamed, told police that she did not remember anything in the apartment after taking multiple shots of alcohol. According to the police, Gupta also made conflicting reports at the time of his arrest, asserting at one time that Waugh tried to kill him. Gupta was uninjured.
“We’re still trying to piece together what happened in that apartment,” Montgomery County Police Captain Jim Daly told Gazette.net.
Georgetown Police Chief Jay Gruber called the killing tragic.
“I know alcohol was involved,” Gruber said. “It’s very hard to give advice to avoid a situation like that. It was a crime of passion and a very sad event.”
Waugh and Gupta were childhood friends who attended Langley High School in McLean, Va., together. Prior to attending Georgetown University Law Center, Waugh graduated magna cum laude from James Madison University in 2012 and spent a year teaching debate in South Korea. At Georgetown, Waugh had just been inducted into the Phi Beta Kappa honors society.
“Everyone was Mark’s friend,” Michael Davis, a friend and professor to Mark at JMU, wrote in an email. “Mark set the bar for what it means to be completely and totally committed to each other. He set a standard that was impossible to live up to.”
Tuesday’s hearing, held in the Montgomery County District Court, focused on Gupta’s $2 million jail bond, which Bours had asked to be lowered to $50,000.
“I believe the evidence will ultimately show that he has a valid defense,” Bours said in court. “It’s particularly tragic for someone who has a defense and who has a promising career and a proven track record at school to be held on a bond of this amount.”
Judge William Simmons, however, declined the request, and Chaikin disagreed that Gupta’s record should have any relevance to his bail requirement.
“All these facts, and this wonderful resume and background, were a different time period in this defendant’s life,” Chaikin said in court. “He’s on a different path now.”