BEIJING (Reuters) - A 21-year-old Chinese college student has been executed for stabbing to death a woman after the car he was driving struck and injured her, a case that has transfixed and outraged the nation.
Yao Jiaxin, a student at Xi’an Conservatory of Music, was executed on Tuesday in Xi’an, capital of the central province of Shaanxi, state media reported. He was convicted of killing the woman to escape responsibility for the auto accident.
The case drew outrage over what was seen as indifference and recklessness of more privileged, wealthy young people towards the less well off. That follows public criticism of several cases of wealthy or prominent drivers flouting traffic laws and arguing vehemently with police who stop them.
Yao confessed to hitting Zhang Miao, 26, with his Chevrolet Cruze compact car last October as Zhang was riding her bicycle home, injuring her slightly.
Afraid that Zhang, a cafeteria worker and mother of a two-year-old, would report his licence number to police, he stabbed her repeatedly until she died, the Supreme People’s Court said in a statement, according to the China Daily newspaper.
Yao had previously been quoted as telling police he killed Zhang because he feared “the peasant woman would be hard to deal with” and demand high compensation. “His motive was extremely despicable, his actions extremely cruel and the consequences extremely severe,” the China Daily quoted the statement as saying.
Yao was sentenced to death on April 22, and his appeal was rejected on May 20, the Xinhua news agency said. The Xi’an Intermediate People’s Court also ordered Yao to pay about 45,500 yuan (4,000 pounds) in compensation to Zhang’s family.
There was an outpouring of online sympathy for the victim, but a number of Yao’s classmates had packed the courtroom and demanded leniency. The case attracted more attention after state media were perceived to be defending Yao.
Chinese media had interviewed a psychologist who said Yao was forced to learn the piano by his parents and used to smash piano keys to vent his anger. The psychologist said the stabbing of the victim eight times may have been a “mechanical repetition” of him smashing piano keys.
Reporting by Terril Yue Jones; Editing by Ken Wills and Ron Popeski