The Taiwan High Court yesterday upheld the life sentence handed to Wang Ching-yu (王景玉) for beheading a girl in Taipei’s Neihu District (內湖) in March 2016.
The sentence also imposed additional terms depriving Wang, 35, of his civil rights for life, and requiring him to receive psychiatric treatment and enter a correctional institution under guardianship for five years if he is released on parole.
It was the second ruling after the Shilin District Court’s decision in May last year and can be appealed.
Photo: Peter Lo, Taipei Times
Wang wandered the streets with a meat cleaver looking for a toddler after unsuccessfully trying to enter an elementary school, prosecutors said.
He came upon a four-year-old, nicknamed Xiao Deng Pao (小燈泡, Little Light Bulb), and decapitated her while she was riding a bicycle ahead of her mother.
The child’s mother said she tried to stop the attack, but was overpowered by Wang, who struck the toddler’s neck area 23 times.
The murder drew significant attention, with many people calling for the death penalty.
Based on evidence and psychiatric evaluations, the judges determined that Wang had schizophrenia and associated psychotic disorders, which caused him to hallucinate and experience other mental problems.
“Due to these conditions, Wang’s mental state and ability to discern right from wrong declined, leading him to commit the murder,” presiding judge Hsieh Ching-hui (謝靜慧) said.
Wang believed he was an ancient Chinese emperor who needed to kill a girl on that day so that a woman would bear his child and sustain his family lineage, the ruling quoted investigators as saying.
Wang’s psychotic disorders influenced his actions, so the court decided to hand down a life sentence rather than the death penalty, Hsieh said.
However, some commentators have raised alarm that people who have been handed life terms can be released on parole after serving only 25 years.
“Our nation has at times granted general amnesty for prisoners, so Wang could be out of prison even earlier than that, which is a very worrisome prospect,” High Court Prosecutor Huang Tung-hsi (黃東熹) said.
“The Ministry of Justice and its Agency of Corrections must carefully examine all conditions when Wang becomes eligible for parole,” the ruling said.
During the trial, Xiao Deng Pao’s father told the court that the image of his daughter’s killing still haunts him, and he does not accept Wang’s apology. He then requested that the court confer the death penalty to discourage others from committing similar crimes.
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