The case against the 24-year graduate student who confessed to killing his high school friend last month will advance to trial, a Maryland court ruled Friday.
Rahul Gupta, who also earned his bachelor’s degree from GW, was charged with second-degree murder after he told officers the night of Oct. 13 that he had killed Georgetown law student Mark Waugh because he thought he and his girlfriend were romantically involved.
The night of the stabbing, Gupta told officers, “My girl was cheating with my buddy. I walked in on them cheating and I killed my buddy” – words that the judge repeated to the courtroom as he ruled that Gupta’s case had probable cause.
Gupta’s lawyer, Philip Armstrong, urged the judge to reduce the charge to manslaughter, describing the incident as “a hot-blooded response to some type of provocation.”
“The state’s evidence in this case clearly makes manslaughter. There’s no question about that,” he said. “There’s nothing that indicates that this is anything that even comes close to meeting the elements of second-degree murder.”
The state prosecutor blasted Armstrong’s plea and said Gupta instead deserved a first-degree murder charge, meaning the killing was deliberate and premeditated.
Gupta, dressed in pale blue prison suit, did not speak during the 20-minute hearing, leaning over in his chair and placing his hand on his mouth as the judge also declined to reconsider his bail.
Armstrong asked the judge to reduce the $2 million bail, arguing that Gupta did not pose a threat to society and should be able to remain with his family until the trial.
“Everybody agrees that everybody was drunk. Everybody agrees that everybody was best friends,” Armstrong said to the courtroom, where Gupta’s parents and sister sat in the back. “He comes from a good family who can post a reasonable bond. To hold him on a bond of this magnitude is just not right.”
The judge rejected his plea because he said Armstrong did not present new information, but said the defense team could take up the issue with the first judge who set the bail.
Armstrong said after the hearing that he was “confident that [the judge] will give some relief.”
Gupta and his girlfriend both graduated from GW’s biomedical engineering program, which had less than 200 students last year. At least one other friend who had celebrated Gupta’s birthday that night was also an alumnus.