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Court upholds death penalty to student murderer

Updated: 2011-05-20 18:04


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XI'AN - A Chinese court on Friday rejected a death sentence appeal filed by a music student who stabbed a cafe waitress to death to cover up a hit-and-run accident.

The Higher People's Court of Northwest China's Shaanxi province announced its decision to uphold the death sentence of Yao Jiaxin after a brief adjournment of Friday morning's hearing.

"We are satisfied with the verdict, which echoes the opinion of the majority of the public. Justice has prevailed," Zhang Xian, the defense lawyer, told Xinhua.

Yao, 21, a student at the Xi'an Conservatory of Music, was convicted of murdering Zhang Miao last October in Xi'an, the capital city of Shaanxi, to prevent her from reporting an incident in which Yao hit her with his car.

Yao was sentenced to death by the Xi'an Intermediate People's Court on April 22. He appealed his sentence after the trial.

The case has aroused widespread public outcry over increasing incidents of reckless behavior by the country's wealthy younger generation. After Yao's verdict was read, applause was heard in the courtroom while some people even lit firecrackers in front of the courthouse to support the court's decision.

"Yao stabbed the victim's chest, stomach and back several times until she died. The motive was extremely despicable, the measures extremely cruel and the consequences extremely serious," Friday's court judgement read. "Although Yao has no criminal record and surrendered himself to the police four days after the incident, the court has still decided to deny him leniency."

During the trial, Yao's lawyer argued that Yao committed the killing "in the heat of passion" and pleaded for leniency, saying "depression was to blame, to some extent, for the killing."

Previous media reports said Yao was forced by his parents to practice piano, which resulted in him occasionally smashing the piano keys to vent his anger. Yao's lawyer claimed that he might have "mechanically" stabbed Zhang several times because of this habit.

This claim was rejected by the court at the first trial.

About a hundred people, including journalists, students and relatives of Yao and Zhang, attended Friday's court hearing.

In a short speech, Yao said he deeply regretted what he did and presented a letter of remorse to the victim's family.

"I feel I hold no moral ground to defend myself in the face of a husband who lost his wife and a two-year-old toddler who lost his mom," a teary Yao said. "I only hope the court can give me a chance. I can be a law-abiding citizen."

Yao broke down into tears when the judge said the court would uphold the death sentence.

Others, however, felt only relief.

"It is expected. If Yao didn't receive a death sentence, the public's anger would be hard to deny," said Xi'an resident Wang Xiaodong.


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