Fri, Dec 19, 2014 - Page 3 News List

Mental illness gets triple-murderer off death row again

By Shelley Shan  /  Staff reporter

The Taiwan High Court yesterday reversed its previous ruling on triple-murderer Chen Kun-ming (陳昆明), 32, who had been sentenced to death for killing a woman four years ago — after receiving an amnesty in the earlier murders of two girls.

The High Court yesterday sentenced Chen to life imprisonment and the deprivation of his civil rights, saying that it is possible for him to be edified.

Chen killed a woman surnamed Lin (林) with a baseball bat in 2010 and was sentenced to death in his first and second trials. However, prior to that incident, he killed two girls — sisters aged eight and nine — in 2003. He served six years in prison, but qualified for a pardon after he was diagnosed with mental illness.

The Lin murder ruling from the second trial was sent to the Supreme Court, which returned it to the High Court for review.

Yesterday’s verdict indicated that Chen beat Lin, 27, to death with a baseball bat when she came to meet him for a purported job interview. Chen wrapped Lin’s corpse in a blanket and hid it in his residence. The crime was committed while Chen was still on parole for the previous offense, the court said.

Before the High Court reconvened for Chen’s case, it ordered National Taiwan University Hospital to conduct a psychiatric evaluation of Chen.

The evaluation showed that Chen was not insane or experiencing “mental infirmity” when he killed Lin. The hospital also found that Chen was able to stand trial and receive a death penalty, adding that Chen had hardly any possibility of being rehabilitated and his chance of recidivism was high.

Nevertheless, the hospital appraisal showed that Chen might have a chance to be edified, if he actively seeks counseling and treatment that should include medication and learning how to get along with women.

Trial judges found that Chen “treated people like dirt,” and the murder demonstrated his cruelty and malice.

During the evaluation, Chen confessed to lying about being possessed by a demon when he murdered Lin, they added.

Netizens questioned the ruling and called the judges “dinosaurs” for handing down a sentence that does not meet public expectations.

“I do not believe that a person who has killed three people could show any repentance,” netizen Sang Lo-hua said. “How sarcastic to hear him [Chen] say that he wanted to offer his apology. It is the judicial personnel who should apologize to the public for letting so many innocents die. Damn the criminal. Damn the justice system.”

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