Chenxi Deng

Photo of Chenxi Deng courtesy of APD

Chenxi Deng, who was charged with aggravated assault after stabbing his estranged girlfriend with a fork in the Engineering-Science Building in September, spent less than a week in jail before being bailed out and is now suspected to be in China.

A judge at the Travis County Central Booking facility set Deng’s bond at $50,000, which was paid by an unknown individual on Sept. 30, five days after his arrest.

James Young, Travis County assistant district attorney, said he suspects Deng returned to China to avoid trial in the U.S.

“Once he’s in China, there’s no getting him back really,” Young said. “I just don’t see that happening.”

If Deng did return to China, he would not face any further penalties, Young said. The U.S. and China do not have an extradition treaty, which is an official document that would require China to surrender Deng and other people bearing arrest warrants to the U.S. judicial system.

Deng followed Li You, a UT graduate student, from Beijing, where the two had maintained a romantic relationship. Deng audited several classes in an attempt to contact You before he crossed paths with her in the Engineering-Science Building.

Deng and You attended Peking University together, though You left China after graduation to pursue her master’s degree at UT. Deng and You were talking in the hallway when the conversation escalated to physical violence. According to the police affidavit, You had visible puncture wounds on the left side of her nose from the fork. 

Deng was able to attend one of You’s classes through UT’s class auditing program, which allows non-UT individuals to take college courses without earning credit. Auditors need the class instructor’s signature and $20 to secure a seat in the classroom, though it has not been determined whether Deng went through the official process.  

According to Jim Whitten, a senior administrative associate for the Office of the Registrar, class auditing provides a chance for people to learn at their own leisure and for a fraction of the cost. 

“For maybe a retired person would want to take a class for their own enjoyment or just anyone who wants to take a class, we offer that ability,” Whitten said.

No record is taken of previous class auditors, according to Shelby Stanfield, vice provost for enrollment management and registrar. There is no system in place to keep past auditors, such as Deng, out of the classroom. 

“As long as the instructor signs off on the person’s ability to take the course, they’re in,” Whitten said.

Jimmy Moore, a UTPD officer in the Crime Prevention Unit, said safety policies have not been altered in any way since the incident.

Deng, charged with a second-degree felony and facing up to 20 years in prison, disregarded his Nov. 22 court date, according to Young. Because Deng failed to attend his court hearing, his bond has been forfeited and there is now a warrant out for his arrest.

Deng’s whereabouts remain uncertain, but he was given an emergency protective order that prevents him from being within 200 yards of You at any time.

Photo Credit: Alex Dolan | Daily Texan Staff

Chenxi Deng, a 22-year-old graduate of Peking University in Beijing, audited a UT course to stalk the student he would eventually stab in the face. According to the University’s course auditing policy, a jail cell is the only thing keeping Deng from auditing another course in the future. 

A non-UT student needs only an instructor’s signature, $20 and an open seat in a classroom to audit a course, according to Kim Taylor, spokeswoman for the Office of the Registrar. An auditor attends class but does not hand in papers, take part in discussions, receive evaluations or earn any credit.

Additionally, the Office of the Registrar does not keep electronic record of course auditors, according to Shelby Stanfield, vice provost for enrollment management and registrar. In that respect, previous auditors, such as Deng, could come back to audit more courses.

“There is no process that if somebody comes back and tries to audit a course that we would check that, or that they would be tagged in the system for us to deny them admittance,” Stanfield said.

Taylor said non-UT students are virtually unrestricted in the number of courses they can audit. In theory, Taylor said, someone could take a degree’s worth of courses for a fraction of the cost of tuition. Enrolled students can audit courses as well, but they need additional dean approval and are limited in the amount of courses they can audit.

The University’s course auditing program has been open to the general public and has remained largely unchanged since the early 1940s, according to Taylor. 

Stanfield said the auditing program will remain the same moving forward. 

“Auditing did not enable this individual,” Stanfield said. “If someone is going to do something bad, they’re going to do something bad. He could have sat outside the room or the building and watched her that way. It’s no different than [saying] the sidewalk allowed a bad person to walk across campus.” 

Derrick Mitchell, a radio-television-film and Persian language and literature senior, said he finds the lack of oversight on the University’s auditing policy to be weird.

“You should at least be a student or have some professional tie to the University to audit a course,” Mitchell said. “What’s the point of calling it a University if anyone can sit in a classroom?” 

Stanfield said course auditing is akin to other University resources provided to the general public, such as access to museums and sporting events, as well as the Tower observation deck or the Union Underground.

“Events on campus don’t require sign up,” Stanfield said. “Most buildings and facilities on campus are open to the public. In one respect, getting an instructor’s approval and paying a fee is more stringent than all the other public activities that take place on campus day in and day out.”

LaToya Hill, associate dean of Student Conduct and Emergency Services, said Deng’s actions would have met the criteria for permanent separation from UT and all other UT System institutions, but course auditors are not subject to University judicial policy because they are not technically students. 

Stanfield said auditing programs are common at other universities but noted he is not aware of other institutions’ procedures.

“I don’t think our auditing process is unique by any stretch of the imagination,” Stanfield said.

UTPD Sgt. Charles Bonnet said Deng and the victim were involved in a romantic relationship as undergraduates at Peking University, though the victim left China after graduation to pursue her master’s degree at UT. Deng was allegedly auditing a high-speed computer arithmetic course to stalk the victim and rekindle their past relationship.

Electrical engineering professor Earl Swartzlander, who presumably granted Deng access to his classroom, could not be reached for comment.

According to UTPD Sgt. Charles Bonnet, the students who overpowered 22-year-old Chenxi Deng after he used a fork to stab graduate student Li You in the nose last week were gutsy, but trying to be the hero isn’t always sensible. 

“We’re not going to take a stance saying everyone should get physically involved if you see something happening.” Bonnet said. “We leave that up to an individual’s morality, their own physical fitness. If you see something happening — if it means making a phone call, that’s what it means. These individuals felt comfortable subduing this guy, and it worked out in this case, but it might not always.”

Bonnet said the students acted heroically. 

“I don’t think there’s any other way to describe their actions,” Bonnet said. “The main point is that we’re all in this together in terms of campus safety. Whether its reported crimes or suspicious activities, we want to encourage a spirit of cooperation. This is just one way that manifested itself, but we’re not saying it’s the best way or the right way.”

Electrical engineering senior Shangheng Wu was one of several witnesses named in the police affidavit. Although Wu was not involved in the struggle to overwhelm Deng, he said he witnessed the moment firsthand.

“I heard a girl yelling continuously and I turned around,” Wu said. “A white guy just ran to the assailant immediately and the assailant was tackled down to the ground. The white guy restrained the assailant and kept him on the ground, yelling that ‘What the fuck are you doing? You just stabbed a girl!’ The other witnesses held the assailant’s feet and helped keep him on the floor.” 

According to the police affidavit, You had four visible puncture wounds on the left side of her nose and abrasions near her left eye, as well as a possible
nose fracture.

Hongjiang Li, an electrical and computer engineering graduate student who knows the victim personally, said she is getting better.

“All I can say about the victim is that she’s recovering,” Li said. “She doesn’t want this to be a public topic anymore.”

According to Bonnet, Deng followed the victim from China in order to re-kindle a romantic relationship. The police affidavit said Deng was auditing classes that would put him in close contact with the victim.

Non-UT students are virtually unrestricted in registering to audit classes and only require an instructor’s signature and $20.

Deng will be in court on Oct. 9. He is charged with aggravated assault causing serious bodily injury, under the category of dating violence, which is a second-degree felony with a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison.

Deng’s attorney, Peter Bloodworth, declined to comment on the case.

Photo of Chenxi Deng courtesy of APD

The alleged assailant in Wednesday’s fork stabbing in the Engineering Science Building followed the victim from China in order to re-kindle a romantic relationship, according to UTPD officers.

Chenxi Deng, a 22-year-old graduate of Peking University in Beijing, supposedly stabbed UT graduate student Li You in the nose with a metal fork on the third floor of the ENS building Wednesday evening at roughly 5:45 p.m. 

According to the police affidavit, You had four visible puncture wounds on the left side of her nose as well as abrasions near her left eye. During a press conference Thursday, UTPD Sergeant Charles Bonnet said she might have a broken nose.

You was initially treated by EMS in the engineering building, but was taken to St. David’s Medical Center for further treatment. She was discharged Thursday.

Deng was charged with aggravated assault causing serious bodily injury, under the category of dating violence, which is a second-degree felony with a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison. Though a judge at the Travis County Central Booking Facility set Deng’s bond at $50,000, Deng had not posted bail at press time.

Deng was also given an emergency protective order requiring that he stay at least 200 yards away from You at all times.

According to Bonnet, Deng and You were involved in a romantic relationship as undergraduates at Peking University, though You left China after graduation to pursue her master’s degree at UT.

After maintaining contact via social media, Deng decided to follow You to Austin, Bonnet said. In a statement given through a UT Mandarin Chinese translator, Deng said he began “auditing” classes he thought You might take in order to run into her.

“[Deng] had a good idea of what classes she was going to be taking because they had been undergrads together,” Bonnet said.

Hongjiang Li, an electrical and computer engineering graduate student who was roommates with You last year, said he saw Deng enter the class he and You were taking Wednesday night before the stabbing.

“Before the class began, I was sitting on [You’s] right side,” Li said. “The guy came in and sat to the left of the girl, and she immediately moved to the right of me.”

Li said he did not recognize Deng as a usual student.

“I didn’t think he was registered for the class,” Li said. “I’d never seen that guy before.”

Li said once You left the classroom, Deng immediately followed her. Li stayed behind to talk with other classmates, but left the room when he heard police in the hallway.

According to Bonnet, You and Deng were talking in the hallway before the interaction escalated to physical violence.

“[Deng] attempted to have a conversation, [You] attempted to not have that conversation, it escalated into an argument and then into a physical confrontation,” Bonnet said.

After the alleged stabbing, four students nearby took hold of Deng and held him to the ground until UTPD and APD officers arrived.

Electrical engineering junior Priscilla Chang said she witnessed Deng being restrained when she went to use the third-floor elevator.

“I saw the guy being pinned down by a few other guys, and he was going nuts,” Chang told The Daily Texan on Wednesday. “He was yelling some crazy stuff, but I couldn’t really tell what it was — he seemed incoherent. He was fighting the guys trying to hold him down.”

You could not be reached for comment.

Photo Credit: Zachary Strain | Daily Texan Staff

Update: The stabbing victim Li You had been followed to the U.S. by the assailaint Chenxi Deng from China, as the two had a romantic past. Read the most updated story here.

Update at 12:10 p.m. on Sept. 26: Roger Wade, public information officer for the Travis County Sheriff's office, confirmed that Chenxi Deng has been arrested and charged with aggravated assault causing serious bodily injury, which is a second degree felony.

Deng, a 22 year old non-UT student, is being held at the Travis County Central Booking Facility, where he was booked Wednesday evening at 11:16 p.m.

A judge at the booking facility set Deng’s bond at $50,000, which can be paid with a cash bond, charity bond or personal bond. He has not yet been released.

Deng was also given an emergency protective order mandating he stay at least 200 yards away from the victim at all times.

Cindy Posey, a spokeswoman for UTPD, said the University will not be releasing the female victim’s name because of FERPA restrictions. She said she could not provide an update on the victim’s condition.

Original story: A female UT student was stabbed in the nose with a fork in the Engineering Science Building on Wednesday night, according to UTPD spokeswoman Cindy Posey.

The victim's name has not been released.

Posey said UTPD received a call at 5:45 PM about an assault in progress, and UTPD and APD officers were both dispatched to the scene. According to Posey and witnesses at the scene, the assailant, Chenxi Deng — who is not a UT student — stabbed the female student, after which he was restrained by several UT students until police officers arrived. 

Posey said the student, who was initially taken care of by an EMT on the scene, has been taken to St. David's Medical Center for further treatment. Posey said Deng has been arrested for aggravated assault, though this could not be confirmed by Roger Wade, public information officer for the Travis County Sheriff's office. 

Electrical engineering junior Priscilla Chang said she did not view the attack itself but was witness to the immediate aftermath. Chang said she reached the third-floor elevator and saw a bleeding girl sitting on the bench outside the elevator, surrounded by other students.

"She was crying, obviously," Chang said. "There was a puddle of blood on the floor, kind of off to the side."

Chang said she saw Deng being restrained on the ground by a group of other students. 

"I saw the guy being pinned down by a few other guys, and he was going nuts," Chang said. "He was yelling some crazy stuff, but I couldn't really tell what it was – he seemed incoherent. He was fighting the guys trying to hold him down."

Dylan Zika, an electrical engineering junior, said he was studying in the ENS building when the stabbing occurred. Zika said when he approached the elevator, he was denied access by the police.

"They wouldn't let anyone in the elevator on the third floor for 20 or 30 minutes," Zika said. "I think they'd already cleaned up the blood by the time I got there."