Professor Jeremiah Cowan was a former Federal prosecutor and professor of criminal law at San Francisco Law School.
A professor of criminal law at UC Berkeley twenty years earlier, Cowan's students included a young Adrian Monk.
In 2009, a student, Ford Oldman, sent Cowan a friendly email, asking him about similarities he'd noticed between a chapter in one of Cowan's books and a different book written in the 19th century. Unknown to Oldman, he was inadvertently threatening to expose Cowan as a plaigiarist. Exposure would have been all the more embarrassing for Cowan, given that he had just written a scathing opinion piece for the San Francisco Chronicle condemning plaigiarism in all professions. He plotted to murder Oldman and have it look like a killing in self-defense.
In his past classes, Cowan had arranged a dramatic stunt to teach his class about the unreliability of eyewitness testimony: he had an anonymous person burst into the lecture hall brandishing a gun, and then run out again, before quizzing his students about their contradictory recollections. He arranged the stunt again, asking Oldman to run into the classroom with a gun, only Cowan would pull a gun himself and shoot him. Beforehand, Cowan also sent himself a series of fake death threats via email, to give himself a valid reason for carrying a gun with him.
The plan was daring, since Cowan had to make it look good by loading Prescott's gun with real bullets, and run the risk of being shot first. But the murder came off perfectly - or would have if Monk had not been present and noticed the similarities with the old stunt. Cowan was arrested and exposed.