Saturday, April 23, 2011

Yao Jiaxin, a 21-year-old student at the Xi’an Conservatory of Music, was sentenced to death on Friday. Yao, from Xi’an in China’s Shaanxi province, was convicted of homicide after stabbing a cyclist to death.

On the night of October 20, 2010, Yao ran into 26-year-old cyclist and mother of a two-year-old, Zhang Miao, while driving his car. After he saw her writing down his vehicle’s license plate number following the accident, he feared she would report him, and proceeded to murder her by stabbing her six times. Prior to her murder, Zhang had suffered only minor injuries in the accident, according to police.

On October 23, after being accused of murdering her, Yao went to the local police station with his parents and confessed to the crime. He said he killed Zhang because she had seen his license plate number, and he feared that the “peasant woman would be hard to deal with.”

During a three-hour trial on March 23, 2011, Yao’s lawyer pleaded for a lenient sentence, saying it was a “crime of passion.” Yao tearfully described how he had been forced to play the piano, leading him to thoughts of suicide. But prosecutors and judges said Yao did not deserve leniency, as he had not attempted to help the woman after the accident but instead murdered her.

Public passions were raised and some thought Yao would get off through the influence of his family. The case triggered a public debate over the death penalty.

“The motive is extremely despicable¬†… the measures are extremely cruel¬†… and the consequence is extremely serious,” said the court in its judgment.

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