A woman accused of stabbing an official to death and injuring another in self-defence in an alleged sexual assault on May 10 was exempted from criminal punishment by a local court Tuesday in Badong County, central China's Hubei Province.
Deng Yujiao, 21, a pedicurist, was charged by local procurators with intentionally injuring others.
The court said the punishment-exemption verdict was made on the basis of three factors.
First, Deng's behavior was self-defence, albeit with excessive use of force. Second, Deng surrendered herself to the police. Third, Deng had limited capability to take legal responsibilities.
In line with China's criminal law, any suspect in the above conditions should be given penalties with leniency, explained Prof. Ma Kechang, an expert in criminal law with Wuhan University based in the provincial capital.
According to forensic assessment made jointly by the Hubei People's Hospital and Wuhan Mental Disease Hospital, both based in the provincial capital, Deng has developed a manic-depressive reaction, which deprives her of full capability of taking legal responsibilities.
At the court, Deng wore a pigtail and dressed in a white T-shirt and a pair of grey trousers. She appeared weak but seemed in a rather good mental condition.
After the verdict, Deng, choking in sobs from time to time, told Xinhua that she was quite surprised about the judgment and was very contented. She thought she would have been penalized harshly because of the murder.
She expressed her gratitude to the public, netizens in particular, for their concern and support. She said her family members, especially her mother and grandfather, had since the incident cared about her and the affection between them had developed further.
She said the first thing she should do in the near future was to have her mental disorder treated, and then she would try to find a new job and live a peaceful life. She hoped she could learn a new skill.
Deng's mother, Zhang Shumei, also expressed her satisfaction about the verdict.
Deng's grandfather, with tears in his eyes, said he would take her granddaughter to a doctor. He told Xinhua the woman had suffered insomnia for the past two years and that since the second half of last year, the family noticed she was mentally challenged.
According to police, on the evening of May 10, Deng Guida, Huang Dezhi and some other local officials entertained themselves at a bathhouse of Xiongfeng Hotel in Yesanguan Town of Badong County. The two forced hotel waitress Deng Yujiao to have sex with them in return for money. They continued to pester and insult Dengupon her refusal. The waitress tried to leave but was halted by Deng Guida and pushed by him to a sofa. The young woman attacked the officials with a fruit knife when they threateningly approached her again, and she thought that they wanted to rape her.
Deng Guida, 44, director of the business promotion office in Yesanguan, died of his injuries, and his 41-year-old junior colleague Huang Dezhi was injured.
The incident aroused wide public attention, especially among netizens, who believed the hotel employee had acted in self-defence.
Huang Dezhi was sacked from the post of vice director of the township office of business delegations, the Communist Party of China's Badong County Discipline Inspection Committee and the county's Supervisory Bureau said earlier in a joint statement.
He was also deprived of his CPC membership and has been detained in connection with public order offences.
Deng Zhongjia, 45, another vice director of the same office, was also fired as the incident had caused a "bad social effect". Deng Zhongjia, who went to the bathhouse with Huang and Deng Guida, had not broken any laws or regulations, the statement said.