Waitress who fatally stabbed official has mental disorder, report says

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 16 June, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 16 June, 2009, 12:00am

The young woman who became an unwilling national hero by stabbing to death a local official who allegedly tried to rape her had mental problems, the Chengdu Business Daily said yesterday.

Her trial on a charge of 'assault using excessive force' begins today.

But psychiatrists who assessed her said a certain level of mental disorder would not exonerate Deng Yujiao , a 21-year-old hotel waitress working at the KTV parlour in Badong, Hubei province , the newspaper said.

Deng killed local official Deng Guida with a fruit knife on May 10 when he was allegedly making advances to her in a hotel room, and also injured another official who tried to assault her.

She was first detained on murder charges by police, but her story spread and brought an outpouring of support and sympathy from members of the public who applauded her 'heroic' behaviour, while criticising the dead official as immoral and Badong police for what many saw as an unjust charge.

Deng Yujiao was released from detention and put under house arrest before being referred to prosecutors on the assault charges on May 31.

The trial begins today at Badong People's Court under the gaze of the nation, but only hand-picked official media organisations, including Xinhua and the Hubei Daily, are allowed into the court hearing.

Lan Zhixue , a member of a Deng Yujiao support group comprising lawyers campaigning on her behalf, said the psychiatric report could have a bearing on the trial.

She could be given a much lighter penalty because of her mental condition, Mr Lan said, for example a suspended jail sentence.

But it was unlikely she would be sent to a psychiatric hospital, even if the report concluded that she had a certain level of mental impairment. 'Otherwise it would once again enrage the public,' Mr Lan said.

Video footage showing Deng Yujiao tied to a hospital bed crying out to her dead father for help hit a national raw nerve over widespread official brutality.

Mr Lan said any mental disorder detailed in the assessment would not be seen as a defence to a criminal charge. But he said the court would be very careful with its verdict, because 'a guilty verdict would set a very bad precedent for self-defence as it would discourage potential victims from defending themselves when trapped in dire situations'.