Hit-and-run killer gets death

[Photo: Citizens greet Wang Hui (center), husband of deceased Zhang Miao, to comfort him outside a court in Xi'an, where Yao Jiaxin stood on trial on Friday. ]

By Ma Lie and Lu Hongyan

XI'AN - Yao Jiaxin, a university student who stabbed a young mother to death after knocking her down with his car in a traffic crash 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 junior at the Xi'an Conservatory of Music, ran into Zhang Miao while she was riding a bicycle. Yao was driving a Chevrolet Cruze at the time of the crash, which occurred at 10:30 pm on Oct 20. Fearing that Zhang would remember his license plate number and report him to the police, he stabbed her to death, according to the Intermediate People's Court of Xi'an.

The court also handed down a life-long revocation of Yao's political rights and ordered Yao to pay 45,498.50 yuan (S$8,635.13) in compensation to Zhang's family.

After the stabbing, Yao drove away from the scene and, in his hurry to get away, injured two bystanders. In an interview with police on Oct 22, he denied he had committed the murder.

The next day, though, he surrendered himself to police in the company of his parents and admitted to being responsible for the killing, the court said.

Yao said he resorted to murder because he feared the "peasant woman would be hard to deal with".

On the night of her death, Zhang, 26, the mother of a 2-year-old boy, was returning home from her temporary job as a cafeteria assistant at the Chang'an campus of Northwest University.

Police said the crash left her with a small fracture in her leg and other slight injuries.

Yao, after hitting the victim, did not try to help her but instead resorted to murder to silence her. That split-second decision made his crime heinous and eliminated a possibility that he would receive a lesser punishment, the court said on Friday.

In China, criminals who turn themselves in are occasionally granted lesser punishments than those who do not.

"The motive was extremely despicable...the conduct was extremely cruel...and the consequences are extremely serious," the court judgment said.

Yao, when asked if he wants to appeal the sentence, said he needs time to make such a decision.

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

Xinhua contributed to this story.

-China Daily/Asia News Network