The High Court yesterday overturned Hsieh Yi-han’s (謝依涵) death sentence, sentencing her to life imprisonment after she was convicted of committing a double murder at Mama Mouth Cafe in 2013.
Hsieh was sentenced to death by three lower courts, with the Supreme Court returning the case to the High Court twice for retrial over the murder of businessman Chen Chin-fu (陳進福) and his wife Chang Tsui-ping (張翠萍) in February 2013.
At that time, Hsieh was a manager of the Mama Mouth Cafe in New Taipei City’s Bali District (八里). She was accused of killing the couple for money and dumping their bodies into Tamsui River (淡水河), where their bodies were found washed up on shore a few days after they were killed.
Hsieh’s defense lawyer called on two expert witnesses in the second retrial, a psychiatrist and a Christian pastor, who had provided counseling to Hsieh during her incarceration, the court said.
The expert witnesses testified that the chances of Hsieh’s rehabilitation were high. The court overturned her death sentence based on this testimony, it said.
The ruling can be appealed.
Several family members of the victims attended the ruling and afterward said that they felt distraught and could not accept the decision, vowing to appeal to the Supreme Court.
In a separate civil case in 2014, the High Court ruled that Hsieh must pay NT$9.99 million (US$312,823 at current exchange rates) compensation to Chen’s siblings and Chang’s mother.
Chen’s sister said it was clear that Hsieh was greedy and after learning that Chen was wealthy planned to kill the couple.
“She killed two people for money. She deserves the death penalty. It is the only way justice can be served,” she said.
Although Hsieh was found guilty and the court fined her, the families have not received any payments, Chen’s sister said.
Chen family lawyer Wei Yi-lung (魏憶龍) said the ruling did not meet society’s expectations.
Hsieh committed a heinous crime for money and fabricated stories about why she did it, even laying blame on the victims, Wei said.
In another ruling yesterday, the High Court upheld a death sentence for Huang Lin-kai (黃麟凱), who was convicted of murdering his girlfriend and her mother in October 2013.
Huang, who was 19 and in compulsory military service at the time, went to his girlfriend’s house and strangled the mother to death, before raping his girlfriend and strangling her to death with rope.
The retrial judgement said Huang had no regard for human life and committed highly vicious acts.
Given that he is likely to reoffend if released, the court said it decided to uphold the death sentence from a lower court’s decision.