College student executed for deadly stabbing
A 21-year-old college student who hit a young mother with his car and then stabbed her to death to avoid paying compensation was executed yesterday morning in Xian, Shaanxi province, amid lingering public anger over the killing.
Yao Jiaxin, a well-off undergraduate at the Xian Conservatory of Music, was sentenced to death by the Xian Intermediate People's Court on April 22 for murdering struggling waitress Zhang Miao, 26, in a hit-and-run accident in October. The Shaanxi High People's Court upheld the death sentence last month, and the Supreme People's Court approved the death penalty within the last few days.
In a TV interview in November, Yao tried to justify his actions by saying he stabbed the woman because she was trying to write down his car plate number, and he feared 'it would be particularly hard to get along with rural people' if he was caught. He also said he feared that the woman would harass his family for compensation.
During the trial, Yao's lawyer, Lu Gang, attributed the killing to intense emotion and fear, comments that helped fuel strong public indignation nationwide.
The intermediate court rejected that defence, saying Yao was simply trying to avoid responsibility for his action by stabbing the woman in her chest, abdomen and back several times until she died.
In its verdict, the court said, 'Yao Jiaxin murdered the woman to prevent divulgence of the hit-and-run accident; it can't be attributed to 'intense emotion' ... Yao's motive was extremely despicable, the measures extremely cruel and the consequences extremely serious.'
Medical experts confirmed that the woman suffered a fracture in her left leg and a concussion as a result of the car accident, but she died because of massive bleeding caused by a severed artery near her heart.
The incident quickly grabbed national headlines, sparking an outcry against the wealthy younger generation. It also came just four days after a similar reckless-driving incident involving Li Qiming, who infamously tried to play on his police chief father's influential position by declaring, 'My father is Li Gang!'
Commentators have since urged mainland society to rethink its education of young people, as test scores and careers are stressed, but aspects such as humanity and respect for life are often given less attention.
Following Yao's sentencing, some people tried to save the student from execution. In March, China Central TV interviewed a criminal psychology professor who attributed Yao's crime of mechanically stabbing to his years of playing piano. And last month, five professors from Xian signed a letter urging authorities to exempt Yao from the death penalty.
Yao's father also offered 200,000 yuan (HK$240,000) in compensation to the victim's family. The court had ordered Yao to pay just 45,000 yuan. But the woman's family said they would decline all of the money.
In mainland-based chatrooms yesterday, many hailed Yao's execution as a victory for public opinion.