The Taiwan High Court Taichung Branch on Tuesday sentenced a woman to three life sentences for murdering her mother, mother-in-law and husband, but the victims’ families yesterday said they were not satisfied with the ruling, because they felt she deserved the death penalty.
Prosecutors charged Lin Yu-ju (林于如), 27, with killing the trio to claim substantial insurance benefits.
In her first trial, the Nantou District Court sentenced Lin to death plus two additional life terms, but in Tuesday’s ruling, the High Court sentenced her to three terms of life in prison.
“The purpose of criminal law is edification, correction and revenge; retribution and the concept of people paying with their lives for killing people are not the main purposes of criminal charges,” the court said. “Since the defendant is only 27 years old, the death penalty is too severe. The court sentenced her to life imprisonment, hoping she could be remorseful and correct what she has done in a long-term process of edification.”
Liu Yi-tsen (劉怡岑), an aunt of Lin’s husband, said her father said they would appeal to the Supreme Court and seek the death penalty.
“She killed not only one person, but her three closest family members. The ruling is not fair to our families. If people committing these crimes are not executed, then people could do similar things without fear,” Liu said.
Prosecutors said Lin had accumulated huge gambling debts, starting in 2004. In November 2008, Lin allegedly pushed her mother as she was walking down stairs at home. Lin’s mother died at the scene and Lin subsequently claimed NT$5.06 million (US$160,000) in insurance.
In May 2009, Lin accompanied her mother-in-law to see doctors at a hospital. She asked for her mother-in-law to stay in a single room, where she added powdered sleeping pills and anti-depressant pills to her mother-in-law’s intravenous drip. Lin called for help after finding her mother-in-law dead in bed.
She later claimed NT$7.43 million in insurance.
Two months after her mother-in-law’s death, Lin poisoned her husband at home and then added more poison to his intravenous drip as he stayed in a single room in hospital. Lin’s husband died and she later claimed NT$4.75 million.
Insurance companies discovered irregularities in the claims and reported them to the police.
Lin admitted to the three murders during the investigation.