Joshua Scaggs knifed Dharmapala in the throat after a racist rant.
By Deepak Chitnis
WASHINGTON, DC: Joshua Scaggs, the man convicted of stabbing University of Illinois Law Professor Dhammika Dharmapala in the throat three years ago, has been to 20 years behind bars.
Scaggs (26) pleaded guilty in May to a charge of attempted first-degree murder, stemming from an attack that happened in December of 2011. According to local reports, Dharmapala and Scaggs were at an Illinois Terminal train station on Champaign, Illinois onÂ December 7, when Scaggs attacked Dharmapala with a knife.
During the attack, Scaggs reportedly yelled at Dharmapala for being a foreigner, saying that he wanted to kill him because this was not his country. Scaggs then plunged the knife into Dharmpalaâ€™s throat and ran away, and was later apprehended by law enforcement authorities in the area. Scaggs was not under the influence of drugs or alcohol at the time.
Dharmapala, meanwhile, has been on the long and slow road back to recovery, one that will not be fully completed anytime soon. The News-Gazette reports that Dharmapala has already had three surgeries, will need at least five more years of additional therapy, has suffered crippling mental and emotional breakdowns, and tens of thousands of dollars in medical and legal fees.
Scaggs has spent the last two years in a mental institution, undergoing evaluation to determine if he is truly fit to stand trial. In May, he was finally deemed fit, and pleaded guilty to the charge against him. He was sentenced on June 16.
Judge Harry Clem deplored Scaggsâ€™s crime, calling it one of the most reprehensible he had ever seen during his long tenure in the Illinois judicial system. The sentencing hearing took about an hour and a half, during which Dharmapala read his own witness testimony about the struggles he has had after the incident.
Since 2009, Dharmapala has been on the faculty of the University of Illinois Law School, where he taught courses dealing with tax policy, public economics, law and economics, and political economics. Before that, he was at the University of Chicago, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, the University of Connecticut, Oxford Universtiy, and CESifo Research Network in Munich.
He earned his undergraduate degree in economics from the University of Western Australia, and his Ph.D. in the same field from the University of California at Berkeley. He has had affiliations with several of the most renowned institutions in the US, including the Georgetown University Law Center and the University of Michigan.
In addition, Dharmapala has nearly 30 journal articles to his name, along with a half-dozen book chapters and a handful of working papers. He has been married to his wife for nine years, who also works at the University of Illinoisâ€™ Urbana campus.