'Just sentence me to death'

After another day of intense grilling, Chinese national Wang Zhijian had had enough.

Faced with the horrific facts of his lover's death, Wang, 45, said he did not want to be questioned any more and pleaded in tears with the judge to sentence him to death.

Yesterday was the fifth day since his murder trial resumed on Monday.

He is accused of intentionally killing his lover, Madam Zhang Meng, 41, her 17-year-old daughter Feng Jianyu, and causing the death of their co-tenant, Madam Yang Jie, 36, in 2008.

One charge of attempting to murder Madam Yang's daughter, Miss Li Meilin, who was 15 at the time, has been stood down.

Miss Li, now 19, is the sole survivor of the attack.

Deputy Senior State Counsel Mohamed Faizal Md Abdul Kadir put it to Wang that not only was he aware that he was stabbing Madam Zhang and Jianyu, but that he had also planned to flee, among other things.

Speaking through an interpreter, Wang replied firmly to most statements: "I disagree."

When challenged with information from Miss Li's statement, Wang stressed that he didn't want to contradict her as he felt that he had "let her down".

After the prosecution finished the cross-examination, he told Justice Chan Seng Onn that he was "starting to feel fear, and felt tense".

Justice Chan asked if he could bear with it for an hour, and Wang replied: "Whenever I think of the past, I feel uncomfortable."

But he complied and his assigned lawyers, Mr Kelvin Lim and Mr Jason Dendroff, took over the questioning.

Barely five minutes later, he broke down.

His face and neck turned red and tears flowed. Audible sniffles and deep breathing echoed as he struggled to reply.

When Mr Lim asked if he denied causing the deaths of Madam Zhang and Jianyu, he asked for the question to be repeated before answering: "I must have done all this."

Reminded of the 44 injuries he inflicted on Madam Zhang, Wang said: "I am shocked, fearful and frightened. I can't imagine that I did this to her."

He later said: "I love her, why would I do it?"

Justice Chan told Wang after Mr Lim ended: "It has been a gruelling time for you. It has ended." Wang begged him not to be questioned any more.

In tears, he pleaded: "You can sentence me to death. Just don't ask me any more. It is too uncomfortable."

Dr Tommy Tan, consultant psychiatrist at Novena Medical Center, examined Wang four times in October and November 2010.

Dr Tan and Dr Kenneth Koh, who is the prosecution's expert witness, agreed that Wang suffered from a prolonged depressive reaction, or adjustment disorder with depressed mood.

Dr Tan concluded that Wang "has an abnormality of mind, and he qualified for the defence of (diminished responsibility)", but in court documents submitted, Dr Koh disagreed.

Taking the stand late yesterday afternoon, Dr Tan said he believes that Wang has been suffering from this condition since 2007, when he was still in China, and that it "escalated when he was in Singapore".

Stress factors like the harassment and threats he faced from Madam Zhang's family, the loss of his job and the humiliating conditions he faced while living with Madam Zhang in Singapore contributed to his condition.

A person suffering from this disorder may have violent outbursts.

To explain why Wang was able to give detailed and coherent statements to the police but unable to do so in court, Dr Tan said it could be that Wang unconsciously forgot this part of his memory.

He speculated that the trauma of having killed his loved one could have caused this memory loss.

Dr Tan also said that when stabbing Madam Zhang, Jianyu, and attacking Madam Yang and Miss Li, Wang would have been aware of his actions.

He added: "It could have been a temporal loss of self-control."

But Wang would have known what he was doing, explained Dr Tan.

He added: "A big proportion of such offenders cannot remember (what they did).

"When they are doing it, they are aware. Post-event, they may forget."

Answering Justice Chan's question on how soon this memory loss occurs, Dr Tan said it could be quite soon or even immediately. He was not able to give a specific answer as no study had been conducted on this.

Asked to comment on the ferocity that Wang attacked Madam Zhang and Jianyu with, Dr Tan said: "I can only say that it was a frenzied attack. Awareness does not equal thinking. Maybe he was not thinking. He cannot control his actions but knows what he is doing."

Dr Tan is expected to take the stand again when the trial resumes on Wednesday.

This article was first published in The New Paper.

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