A hotel waitress from Hubei is getting her first taste of freedom in more than a month after being convicted yesterday over the killing of a government official who tried to force her to have sex with him. Although the judges at Badong County People's Court ruled that Deng Yujiao was guilty of intentionally causing bodily harm, they set her free for three reasons: she acted in self-defence, albeit with 'excessive force'; she turned herself in to police; and she had only limited criminal responsibility because she was suffering from 'a certain level of mental disorder'. Deng, 21, killed Deng Guida , 44, from Yesanguan town with a fruit knife on May 10 when he forced himself on her in a hotel bathing area. She injured another official who tried to assault her. Police detained her for murder, but her story spread and brought an outpouring of support and sympathy on the internet from people all over the mainland, who applauded her 'heroic' behaviour and criticised the dead official for being immoral and Badong police for what many saw as an unjust charge. Deng was released from detention and put under house arrest before being handed over to prosecutors on assault charges on May 31. She has 10 days to decide if she will appeal against the verdict. Xia Lin , a member of her original defence team, said he thought Deng could live with the verdict, although the 'mental disorder' finding would reflect badly on her. He called her conviction regrettable. Zhang Zanning , a professor from Southeast University's law school, said the verdict was apparently a compromise the court had to make 'to please the higher authorities with a guilty verdict and, at the same time, to heed public sentiment by letting the woman go. But the legal system will bear the brunt for losing public trust'. Professor Zhang said the verdict was flawed because Deng had never turned herself in; she had merely called the police following the stabbing to ask for help. 'Seeing that call to police as an admission of guilt would turn Deng Yujiao from a victim into a perpetrator, and that would be calling black white,' he said.