SAN JOSE -- A vicious stabbing that rattled a calm South San Jose neighborhood grew more disturbing when prosecutors revealed the suspect blindsided and killed his stepfather on his parents' wedding anniversary.

It was the culmination of years of family turmoil and heartache that included prior police calls and jail stints for the suspect, who reportedly suffers from schizophrenia and had a breakdown on the evening of the slaying in the Almaden Valley, authorities said.

Daniel Hsiao, 22, of San Jose, was arraigned Wednesday on a murder charge in the Aug. 9 death of 55-year-old Ian Leighton at their home on Charter Oak Place, next to Leland High School. He did not enter a plea and remains in the Santa Clara County Jail where he is being held without bail.

A despondent Hsiao briefly appeared in a San Jose courthouse shackled at the waist and wrists and clad in a yellow jumpsuit. The only word he uttered was "Yes," when Judge Hector Ramon asked him if he chose to waive his right to a speedy trial.

Deputy District Attorney Dan Fehderau said the extent that Hsiao's mental-health issues factored into the killing is still being evaluated. At first glance, they aren't severe enough to avert a murder charge, he said.

"The significance, and what it means to the case, remains to be seen," Fehderau said.

Hsiao has been referred to the Santa Clara County Public Defender's Office for legal representation.


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According to a police-written court document, Leighton and his wife, Hsiao's mother, celebrated their sixth wedding anniversary when they returned home in the evening and found that Hsiao was not there as expected and that an iPod was missing. They found him at a light-rail station at Chynoweth and Pearl avenues and threatened to call police if he did not go home with them.

On the ride back, Hsiao was reportedly agitated and hostile toward his stepfather. Once they got home, authorities say, Hsiao grabbed a kitchen knife and headed upstairs to Leighton's bedroom.

"He surprised him from behind," Fehderau said of Hsiao.

Moments later, his mother, who had been making her son something to eat, heard screaming and rushed to an upstairs hallway where she found her son on top of Leighton. She got between them and struggled with her son, making him go downstairs and into the kitchen while she called 911.

"The reporting party ... called to report that Daniel Hsiao had gone crazy" and stabbed Ian Leighton, according to the police document.

Meanwhile, Leighton stumbled downstairs and collapsed in the front doorway. As his wife tended to her gravely injured husband -- one witness recalled her saying, "Don't leave me, don't leave me" -- Hsiao approached them.

His mother pushed her son to the ground and disarmed him, and he fled. Responding officers found him a few blocks north, covered in blood, and he surrendered. Leighton was rushed to the hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

Hsiao's mother suffered a cut on her finger during her scuffle with her son.

In the aftermath of the stabbing, residents from their current and former neighborhoods recalled police officers responding to their home, where Hsiao lived with them intermittently. Police said that the defendant had been living at the Charter Oak Place since November and that he had been in and out of jail.

Fehderau sympathized with the parents' plight, saying they helped Hsiao deal with his schizophrenia, which was treated with medication and medical expertise.

Hsiao is scheduled to return to court Sept. 17.

Contact Robert Salonga at 408-920-5002. Follow him at Twitter.com/robertsalonga.