Man gets life in prison for killing mom with hammer

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Bryan Chang

VISTA, Calif. — A mentally ill man who killed his mother with a hammer and partially dismembered her body in her Solana Beach home after she quit supporting him financially was sentenced in Vista 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 a sentence Tuesday morning, Judge Harry Elias denied motion for new trial.

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, delivered by a hammer, prosecutor Rachel Solov told the jury. The defendant used a knife to cut off his mother’s right arm, which he put in the refrigerator, the prosecutor said. A piece of her skull was found in a drawer.

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 court testimony.

Bryan Chang — who had been diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia — was “very sick” and insane at the time of the murder, defense attorney Kathleen Cannon told the jury.

The victim’s niece sent a letter to the court and it was read by a prosecutor Tuesday morning. “It is something no family should ever experience,” the niece said of Sherry Chu Chang’s murder.

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