Thu, Dec 31, 2015 - Page 3 News List

Man found not guilty of 2000 murder of girlfriend after new DNA evidence

By Jason Pan  /  Staff reporter

This is a file photo of Lu Chieh-min.

Photo: Taipei Times

The Taiwan High Court yesterday reversed earlier rulings on a Taipei murder case dating from 2000 and found the defendant, Lu Chieh-min (呂介閔), not guilty.

The ruling said that the court’s decision was based on new DNA tests of bodily fluids found on the female victim.

Lu, now 35, was found not guilty of murder due to a lack of evidence in the first and second rulings. However, in subsequent court-mandated retrials, he received a guilty verdict and was sentenced to a 13-year prison term in 2010.

After 10 years of judicial proceedings and exhausting his appeals, Lu was incarcerated and has since served four years of his sentence.

In May, new evidence was presented for re-examination using the latest DNA testing technique.

Lu was charged with the murder of his girlfriend, surnamed Kuo (郭), after her body was found at a public park in Taipei’s Neihu District (內湖) in July 2000.

Kuo’s body showed evidence of trauma to her head — it was suspected that she was struck by a blunt object — and there was a bite mark on her left breast, along with indications that she was sexually assaulted.

A criminal investigation and evidence suggested that the two had an argument over Lu’s decision to date other women, quarreling at the park when Lu allegedly hit her with a blunt weapon, killing Kuo, and then partially removed her clothing and underwear.

Prosecutors said the bite mark on Kuo’s left breast was a “love bite” by Lu, and a coroner’s report said the mark conformed to features of Lu’s teeth.

“The new DNA testing showed that the saliva left on the female victim’s body did not match the defendant’s DNA. Therefore we concurred that the bite mark was not made by the defendant,” Taiwan High Court spokesman Chou Ying-wen (周盈文) said about yesterday’s ruling. “Also, DNA from semen samples taken from the victim’s body and underwear did not match Lu’s DNA.”

However, there were still questions and doubts over the case.

“All of the evidence points to Lu as my daughter’s killer, but now DNA testing shows it was not him. Then who was the murderer? Can the courts give justice to my daughter? They must help us to find the murderer,” Kuo’s mother said yesterday.

Chou said that in the first and second trials, Lu had confessed to leaving the bite mark on the victim. However, the court took into consideration that Lu was influenced by the forensic report at the time, which indicated the bite mark conformed to Lu’s teeth.

Chou said that public prosecutors would not appeal yesterday’s verdict to the Supreme Court, unless there were extraordinary circumstances, such as “cited legal reasons for the verdict having contravened the Constitution, or contravened legal interpretation by the Judicial Yuan, or contravened other precedent rulings.”

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