Zhang Koukou is tried at Hanzhong Intermediate People's Court in Shaanxi province on Jan 8. He was convicted of intentional homicide and property destruction. (Photo/CHINA DAILY)
Man knew what he was doing when he killed three neighbors, court rules
The Shaanxi Provincial High People's Court on Thursday upheld the death penalty of Zhang Koukou, who killed three neighbors in revenge for his mother's death.
After a second trial, the court ruled that Zhang's actions constituted the crimes of intentional homicide and destruction of property, and it said the original ruling of a court in Hanzhong, was correct as it was based on clear facts and sufficient evidence.
Zhang, 36, was sentenced to death on Jan 8 after being convicted of killing Wang Zixin and two of his sons, Wang Zhengjun and Wang Xiaojun, with a knife on Feb 15 last year, and then setting fire to Wang Xiaojun's car with gasoline.
Zhang appealed to the high people's court, and his lawyers said Zhang should be leniently punished because he turned himself in to police two days after the killing and has a mental illness.
But on Thursday, the high people's court said the evidence proved the killings were well prepared by Zhang, "and his behaviors were extremely cruel, which means he cannot be given lenient punishment, even though he surrendered".
The death penalty will be submitted to the Supreme People's Court, for a review under the Chinese Criminal Procedure Law.
The case drew public attention after it was reported in the media that Zhang had killed the three in revenge for the death of his mother, who had been seriously injured with a stick by Wang Zhengjun, the third son of Wang's family, during a quarrel in August 1996. The mother died of those injuries.
Wang Zhengjun, then 17, was sentenced to seven years in prison for intentional injury and ordered to pay more than 9,600 yuan ($1,510) in compensation four months later.
Zhang confessed during the first trial that over the past two decades he had never given up the idea of getting revenge for the attack on his mother.
On Feb. 15, 2018, Zhang followed Wang Zhengjun and Wang Xiaojun as they made their way home and stabbed the brothers several times. Zhang then went to Wang's residence and killed their father, Wang Zixin, 70, and set Wang Xiaojun's car on fire.
During the second hearing, Deng Xueping, one of Zhang's lawyers, said his client has mental problems and went on the killing spree because of deep sorrow over losing his mother.
Deng also said that Wang's family let the youngest son, who was a minor at the time, take the blame, because his sentence would be lenient due to his age.
But the high people's court said Zhang stabbed the victims several times and fled the scene before surrendering two days later, "which means he could control himself and knew what he was doing".
In addition, the conviction and sentencing of Wang Zhengjun were correct under Chinese Criminal Law, the court added.