Chinese student sentenced to death over murder

Updated: 2011-04-22 12:20
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XI'AN - Yao Jiaxin, a university student who murdered a young mother after accidentally running into her with his car in October 2010, was sentenced to death on Friday by a court in Xi'an, capital of northwest China's Shaanxi Province.

Yao, 21, a student at the Xi'an Conservatory of Music, ran into cyclist Zhang Miao while driving his Chevrolet Cruze at around 10:30 p.m. on October 20 last year. Fearing that Zhang would remember his license plate number and report him to authorities, he stabbed her to death, according to the Intermediate People's Court of Xi'an.

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The court also handed down a life-long revocation of Yao's political rights in Friday's first instance judgment and ordered Yao to pay 45,498.50 yuan ($6,983) in compensation to Zhang's family.

Yao fled the scene after stabbing the victim and injured two others as he hurried to drive away. He denied the murder in an interview with police on October 22, but surrendered himself to police in the company of his parents and admitted to the killing the next day, the court said. Yao allegedly admitted to killing the woman because he feared the "peasant woman would be hard to deal with."

On the night of her death, Zhang, 26, the mother of a two-year-old boy, was returning home from her temporary job as a cafeteria assistant at the Chang'an campus of Northwest University.

Police said she suffered only slight injuries from the traffic accident, including a small fracture to her left leg.

Yao did not try to help the victim after hitting her, but instead resorted to murder to silence her, making his crime extremely serious and eliminating the possibility of a lessened punishment, the court said Friday. Criminals who turn themselves in are occasionally granted lesser punishment than those who do not.

"The motive is extremely despicable...the measures are extremely cruel...and the consequence is extremely serious," the court judgment said.

The case aroused widespread public fury and suspicion over whether Yao's parents might use their influence to secure a lighter sentence.

Family members of Yao and Zhang, as well as hundreds of journalists and students, were present for the judgment.