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Husband says wife asked him to help her die

By Li Qian (Shanghai Daily)

09:11, November 01, 2012

A MAN sobbed in a northwestern China city court during his trial for murder by drowning his paralyzed wife, saying he did it at her request, Western Economic Daily reported yesterday.

Jia Zhengwu, 38-year-old villager from Gansu Province, pushed his wife, Zhang Xiaojun, into the Yellow River on an April night in 2011 after Zhang spent 12 hours begging Jia to end her miserable life, the Lanzhou City Intermediate People's Court heard last month. The sentence was not announced. The maximum for murder is death, but defendants in such cases often get a reprieve or lesser sentence.

Zhang was diagnosed in 2003 with ankylosing spondylitis, or chronic inflammation of the spine, which causes back pain and stiffness. She had been paralyzed since 2007. Her treatment also nearly bankrupted her family.

"She was married to me for 17 years. It was really hard to make up my mind to do it," Jia testified. "I told her not to lose the will to live because I would make every effort to cure her. But she said we had huge debts and couldn't pass the burden to our two children," he added.

The man is known as a model husband in his village. Relatives, fellow villagers and police appealed for leniency. "My brother had no choice but to sell all his belongings - a cattle farm, a three-wheeled vehicle and some stored food - to raise 18,000 yuan (US$2,885) in order to cover his wife's medical expenses," Jia's brother Jia Shengli siad.

Their son, nicknamed Xiaoxin, said his mother once told him to get pesticides for her to end her life. "My mom told me to study hard and listen to my dad. She said she wouldn't be back home if she wasn't cured," Xiaoxin said Zhang told him before seeing doctors in March 2011.

The husband was arrested two days after his wife died. He planned to claim Zhang was missing, but instead led police to her body. He said he never thought he was breaking the law. "Is it wrong to follow her will to help free her of her miserable life?" he asked.

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