Yao Jiaxin murder case
Yao Jiaxin murder case refers to an intentional homicide triggered by a traffic accident on October 20, 2010. Yao Jiaxin, a 21-year-old student from Xi'an，Shaanxi Province, hit a restaurant waitress, Zhang Miao, and stabbed her to death when he saw her memorizing his license plate number. Yao was put on trial on March 23, 2011 and was sentenced to death on June 7, 2011. This case brought much public attention because of Yao’s family background and whether the death penalty should be abolished.
On the night of October 20, 2010, Yao Jiaxin, a student at Xi’an Conservatory of Music, hit a woman named Zhang Miao with his Chevrolet. When he got out of the car, he found Zhang trying to memorize his license plate number. As he was afraid that Zhang would blackmail him or otherwise get him in trouble over this accident as she was a rural peasant, he took out a knife and stabbed her eight times until she died. When he was trying to escape, he hit two other people on the road and was eventually apprehended. However, the police released him because of lack of evidence. The police did not manage to properly connect the two accidents and charge him of murder until October 22.
Yao confessed on October 23, and was put on trial on March 23, 2011 at the Xi’an Intermediate People’s Court. Since he had shown remorse for the murder, it was quite likely that he would escape the death penalty. However, after this case was exposed by the media and discussed heatedly on the internet, most netizens demanded Yao receive the death penalty. Chinese netizens, through the use of Human Flesh Search, were able to discover that Yao's father was a well-placed military representative in Xi’an, which added to popular resentment of him. Chinese netizens tend to have particular animosity against the rich and well-connected, either through business or government relationships.
On the other hand, a crime psychologist, Li Meijin, made controversial comments on the case in an interview on China Central Television, which were also maligned by netizens. She posited that Yao’s behavior in stabbing the woman eight times was related to his miserable experience of playing piano during his childhood. ‘His behavior of stabbing the victim eight times could have been a mechanical repetition of him hitting the piano keys’, said Li. However, she was seen as an unabashed apologist for Yao. Netizens called her the 'defender of a murderer' and also launched a Human flesh search engine to discredit her. Many netizens also thought that the state media coverage of the case was biased, as it covered only the murderer without any empathy for the victim.
The Education System
During the trial, Yao's lawyer, pleaded for leniency by saying Yao was a 'model student', with many awards for academic excellence.
This was very ironic and led to heated discussion over the Chinese education system. While most parents only care about children's grades, they care less about their character and moral compass. Such a rigid education deprives children of their natural development and makes them indifferent about life.
Abolition of Death Penalty
There was a heated debate on the internet by many public figures about whether capital punishment in China should be abolished. The debate was triggered by the murder case of Yao. According to an online Yahoo survey about whether Yao should get the death penalty, 96.5% (10,710 out of 11,100) of the respondents said that he should. One of the reasons for the widespread public outrage towards Yao is that they were afraid that China would be controlled by jungle law.
Result of Trial and Responses
Yao was given the death penalty by the Xi'an Intermediate People's Court on April 22, 2011. He appealed the court's decision, but to no avail. The Supreme People's Court (SPC) reviewed the case and concluded that the first and second trials were without error. 'The motive was extremely despicable, the measures extremely cruel and the consequences extremely serious,' said the SPC.
Public reaction towards the execution varied on the internet. Some claimed that it was a victory for public action over the privileged class, while others considered Yao a victim of cyberstalking/online mobs.
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