Thu, Aug 10, 2006 - Page 1 News List

DNA test suggests man's innocence

EXONERATING EVIDENCE?Testing found that the sperm of Lu Chin-kai, who was jailed for raping and killing a college girl, did not match that taken from the girl's body

STAFF WRITER

The parents of Lu Chin-kai, a man accused of raping and murdering a female student in 1993, stand outside their house in Yuli Township in Hualien County yesterday. The two have always maintained that their son was innocent.

PHOTO: CHIU HSIEN-MING, TAIPEI TIMES

DNA testing has contradicted a key piece of evidence in a high-profile rape and murder case from the early 1990s, suggesting that a man who has sat in jail for more than 12 years for his supposed involvement in the crime may be innocent.

Testing showed that the Lu Chin-kai's (呂金鎧) DNA did not match that of the sperm taken from a college woman who was raped and killed in 1993 in the apartment he shared with a friend who was also charged in the crime.

The Taiwan High Court on Tuesday said in a ruling that "by using the newest DNA testing technology, judges found that the sperm taken from the victim's vagina did not match defendant Lu Chin-kai's sperm."

Legal experts said that Lu could now ask the Supreme Prosecutors' Office to file an extraordinary appeal for him. If he is indeed found not guilty, he could file a lawsuit asking for compensation for his unjust prison sentence.

After the finding, Lu's parents, who live in Hualien County, yesterday told the press: "We have always believed our son did not commit the crime. He told us he was innocent."

Lu's mother yesterday refused a local official's money in a red envelope, saying "we do not want money. We want our son to come back as soon as possible."

The case dates back to the early 1990s, when Lu, now 48, and a man named Chen Hsi-ching (陳錫卿) became friends while both were in prison in Taipei. After they were both released in 1993, they lived together in Jhonghe City, Taipei County, in an apartment owned by Lu's boss at a bakery where he worked.

In December 1993, Chen answered an ad offering tutoring posted by a college girl in Taipei, and pretended he was looking for a tutor. The girl was raped and murdered after entering the apartment for what she thought was a tutoring session. The murder was discovered when Lu's boss checked his apartment and found the victim's body the next day.

Investigators took more than 20cc of sperm from the victim's vagina, an amount that led them to suspect that more than one person had raped the victim.

Police discovered scratches on Lu's body and clothes, which police suspected he received while assaulting the girl. Chen told investigators that Lu had called the girl and asked for tutoring, and that Chen and Lu had then raped and murdered her together.

Detectives concluded that the sperm taken from the victim's vagina was a mixture of Chen and Lu's sperm.

During the trial, Lu denied raping or murdering the victim, saying that he had admitted the crime to police because they had tortured him during the investigation.

The Taipei District Court gave both Lu and Chen the death penalty, which the Taiwan High Court sustained over three appeals. In the fourth appeal, the high court decided that while Lu and Chen had both raped the girl, Lu was not involved in the murder. Lu was instead given a 20-year jail term.

In March, Lu gave up any further appeals, after the high court maintained the 20-year sentence in the sixth appeal. At the time, Lu said that he did not want to see his parents -- who are now both more than 80 years old -- burdened by any additional expenses involved in appealing his sentence.

The recent finding that Lu's sperm did not match that taken from the victim's body came during Chen's seventh appeal trial. The high court upheld Chen's death sentence.

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