Sheepshead Bay man sentenced for grisly murder of professor in 2018

Police search the home of Jeremy Safran, who was found with head and body trauma inside his Stratford Road home in May 2018. Nearly four years later, his killer has been sentenced.
File photo by Mark Mellone

A Sheepshead Bay man who slaughtered a renowned New School College psychology professor after breaking into his Brooklyn home in May 2018 has been sentenced to 22 years to life in prison, the Brooklyn District Attorney’s Office announced last week.

“This defendant broke into the victim’s home and when confronted, senselessly stabbed him to death,” said Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez in a statement. “Hopefully, today’s sentence brings a measure of solace to his heartbroken family. The defendant has now been held accountable for his actions.”

Jeremy Safran, a Canadian-born clinical psychologist, was found dead by police in the basement of his Flatbush home on the evening of May 7, 2018, after his wife had called 911. He had five stab wounds.

The 32-year-old defendant, Mirzo Atadzhanov, was found hiding in a basement closet after he broke into the Stafford Place home, according to the Brooklyn DA’s office, where it is believed Safran confronted the burglar before being bludgeoned. 

Atadzhanov — a professional chess player and biology teacher, according to his LinkedIn profile — pled guilty for first-degree murder in November 2018, after being indicted that June on charges of burglary and murder. 

The knife that killed Safran was later found in the trunk of Atadzhanov’s car, which he reportedly made a run back to before police arrived. The DA’s office also told Brooklyn Paper in 2018 that the defendant followed Safran’s daughter to the front door, spoke to her, then left, prior to the fatal stabbing.

The DA’s office did not reveal Atadzhanov’s motive for murdering the professor, and news outlets have published conflicting reports. While some outlets have reported that he may have been a student in Safran’s class, others reported that he was randomly asked to do some electrical work in Safran’s home.

Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Danny Chin handed down Atadzhanov’s sentencing on March 3, nearly four years after the murder.