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UCLA professor ordered to stand trial in lab fire death of research assistant

County prosecutors say a University of California, Los Angeles chemistry professor has been ordered to stand trial after a fire in his lab caused the death of a 23-year-old research assistant.

A district attorney's statement Friday says Judge Lisa Lench ordered 43-year-old Patrick Harran to be tried on three felony counts of violating workplace safety standards in the death of Sheharbano "Sheri" Sangji (she-har-bah-noo sang-gee).

Prosecutors say Sangji was in Harran's organic chemistry laboratory Dec. 29, 2008, when she transferred a highly flammable material without wearing a protective lab coat. The material spilled and caught fire, causing severe burns.

Sangji died of her injuries 18 days later.

Harran is due for arraignment May 9. The university and his defense maintain it was a tragic accident that doesn't merit criminal charges.

If convicted Harran faces up to 4½ years in prison.

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