A Chinese court sentenced a college student to death on Friday for murdering a woman he had injured with his car, in a crime that has sparked widespread debate over China’s rich “second generation.”
Yao Jiaxin (藥家鑫) was given the death penalty in the northern city of Xian after confessing he killed Zhang Miao (張妙) because he feared the “peasant woman would be hard to deal with” after the accident, the state Xinhua news agency said.
According to media reports, Yao’s car hit Zhang, a part-time cafeteria worker and the mother of a two-year-old son, while she was riding her bicycle late on the night of Oct. 20 last year.
The 26-year-old woman only suffered minor injuries, but instead of helping her, Yao, 21, stabbed her eight times with a knife as she eyed his licence plate. The Xian Conservatory of Music student fled the scene, but was later caught.
The crime has led to widespread social debate over China’s “rich second generation,” a well-off group of youths that demands privilege and sometimes lacks morals, after more than 30 years of booming economic growth.
It follows another notorious incident involving a 23-year-old man, Li Qiming (李啟銘), who was sentenced to six years in prison in January after attempting to exploit his father’s senior police rank to flee a fatal drunk-driving accident.
After running over two young women on a college campus in north China, killing one of them, he shouted: “My father is Li Gang (李剛),” and dared onlookers to try to stop him leaving the scene.
In its judgement on Yao, the court said his crime was “extremely despicable ... and extremely cruel,” and warranted the death penalty despite his confession and remorseful attitude, Xin-hua said.
Yao was also ordered to pay Zhang’s family 45,000 yuan (US$6,900) in compensation. The court was unavailable for comment when contacted.
Reaction to Friday’s verdict was mixed in Internet postings, with many saying the life of a college student should be spared, while others agreeing wholeheartedly with the verdict.
“If it were not for the strong public opinion over this case, it is very unlikely that this verdict would have been reached,” said a posting by a person named Mafan on the popular Sina.com Web portal. “Judging from the trade-off of [social] interests, Yao Jiaxin could have been spared his life.”