The Tainan branch of the Taiwan High Court yesterday granted a retrial to Hsieh Chih-hung (謝志宏), who has been on death row for a double homicide in Tainan’s Gueiren District (歸仁) in 2000.
The court also ruled that the death sentence would be suspended.
Hsieh, who was released yesterday, had been charged as an accomplice in the stabbings of a woman — who his friend, surnamed Kuo (郭), had sexually assaulted — and a witness using a butterfly knife.
However, the police reportedly did not record Hsieh’s statement or take fingerprints from the alleged murder weapon.
Based on the 48 stab wounds on the woman’s body and the lack of a fuller — a groove to make a blade lighter — on the alleged weapon, a forensic expert determined that there was more than one suspect.
The case went through seven retrials between 2001 and 2010 before the Supreme Court rejected a death penalty appeal in 2011.
Hsieh last year presented two new pieces of evidence.
The first was a three-page document in which Hsieh listed where he had been on the day of the murders.
Hsieh said that the document, which he claimed was not forwarded to prosecutors by the Gueiren Police Precinct, was created three to four hours before he confessed to a role in the murders during police questioning.
The second was a report on the effect of fullers on the amount of strength needed to pull a knife out of a human body.
The report purportedly refutes the forensic expert’s claim that it takes more strength to pull out a knife without a fuller, Hsieh said.
The new evidence was enough to change the previous ruling, prosecutors said.
If no interlocutory appeal is filed within five days, the retrial process would begin.
Hsieh could be paid about NT$7 million (US$226,530) in compensation if he is found innocent, according to the Compensation for Wrongful Detentions and Executions Act (刑事補償法).
Hsieh’s brother yesterday said that there were parts of the case that were obviously suspicious, adding that he hoped the judges would consider the case thoroughly.
Additional reporting by CNA
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