Mother guilty of children's death

Updated: 2013-09-19 01:43

By Zhou Wenting in Shanghai (China Daily)

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A woman has been sentenced to life imprisonment for the intentional homicide of her two daughters. The girls starved to death after being left alone at home in Nanjing, Jiangsu province.

"Yue Yan was addicted to drugs and took little care of the girls. The victims were young children, and that usually means the defendant receives a severe sentence," said Zhou Kan, the presiding judge, at Nanjing City Intermediate People’s Court.

Mother guilty of children's death

Yue Yan, 22, who was found guilty of allowing her daughters starve to death after leaving them at home with the door and windows shut, appears at a court in Nanjing on Wednesday. [Xu Gaochun / for China Daily ]

Yue escaped the death penalty because she is pregnant. Under Chinese law, women who are pregnant at the time of trial cannot be sentenced to death.

"I’m sorry for my girls. I’ll give the baby away to other people or social welfare organizations after giving birth to him or her because I need to serve the jail term," said the tearful 22-year-old.

The bodies of 2-year-old Li Mengxue and 15-month-old Li Tong were discovered at their home on June 21.

Prosecutors say Yue neglected her duty, because she knew the girls would be unable to survive without her. However, Yue had not been home since April.

Yue and her boyfriend Li Wenbin, the girls’ father, began living together in 2011, according to the prosecution.

Yue became the toddlers’ sole guardian in February when Li, 28, was imprisoned for providing shelter for drug addicts.

She left home in April after filling the crack between the bedroom door and its frame with napkins and leaving some food and water for her daughters, who she locked in the room.

Yue said she sealed the doors to ensure the safety of the children because the older girl had run away from home before.

Neighbors said they saw the older girl at the entrance of the residential building, topless, on April 17. Police later found the younger girl sitting on the toilet in the apartment, with her face covered with excrement.

"The child must have been extremely hungry," said Chen Chuncai, who lives on the second floor of the residential building that Yue lives in.

After Li was jailed, the family received a monthly subsidy of 800 yuan ($130) from the community, but she spent most of the money on drugs and in Internet bars, prosecutors said.

Yue once said she had thought of her daughters on June 1, International Children’s Day.

"I committed an unforgivable mistake. I’ll compensate for my sins if the country will allow me. When my atonement is over, I hope to be a good person," Yue told the court.