Wed, Jul 12, 2006 - Page 4 News List

Chinese woman admits US killing, denies mutilation

CRIME OF PASSION A former graduate student has been charged in Shanghai with killing her husband in the US after he asked for a divorce


A former Chinese graduate student has admitted murdering her husband in the US, but denied dismembering his body, which was found in a car trunk, reports said yesterday.

Danlei Chen, 29, is charged with the murder of her husband, Lei He, who was a Purdue University graduate student when he was shot to death last August. His dismembered remains were found in the trunk of his car, which was parked near O'Hare International Airport in Rosemont, Illinois.

Chen's case was heard in a one-day trial on Monday, local media reported. A date for the verdict has not yet been set, said an official at the Shanghai No. 1 Intermediate People's Court, who refused to give her name.

"We don't have any official statement here yet," said the official, referring inquirers to reports by the official China News Service and local newspapers.

The Chinese media accounts, quoting Chen's statements to the court on Monday, said she confessed to killing He while they were fighting over his demands for a divorce.

"I loved him very much but he wanted to divorce me as we quarreled a lot," the Shanghai Daily quoted Chen as saying. "I held his head and burst into tears. When I saw blood gush out of his head, I tried to stop it by covering it with clothes, but I could not."

According to the reports, Chen said she contacted a man, identified only by the name Jack, to help her dispose of He's body, which allegedly was cut into eight parts and kept in the couple's refrigerator until she allegedly hid them in the car trunk and drove to the airport.

Chinese authorities arrested Chen when she returned to Shanghai, allegedly attempting to use her late husband's passport to enter the country. Her case has drawn sensationalistic media reporting that's rare given China's secretive judicial system.

The media accounts of the trial quoted Chen as saying she paid the man named Jack US$2,000 to help with the body.

A photo in the Oriental Morning Post showed the petite Chen, handcuffed and looking pensive, as two uniformed court officials led her from a police van.

Chen and He met as students at Beijing's prestigious Tsinghua University and married in 2001, the reports said. Further advancing on what would normally be an elite career path, they moved to the US for graduate school, but Chen withdrew from Purdue in January last year.

Indiana authorities issued an arrest warrant for Chen when she did not appear for a court hearing on Aug. 26 last year on charges she stabbed her husband during a December 2004 domestic dispute.

Police had responded to at least two earlier disturbances at the home of the couple.

Chen has not been charged by any US court because China and the US do not have an extradition treaty. However, the reports said Chinese investigators traveled to the US to collect evidence.

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