High Court upholds life sentence in murder of 'Little Light Bulb'

01/21/2020 04:56 PM
CNA file photo
CNA file photo

Taipei, Jan. 21 (CNA) The Taiwan High Court on Tuesday upheld the life sentence against a man convicted of killing of a three-year-old girl, known as Little Light Bulb, in a gruesome knife attack in Taipei in 2016.

In a retrial of the high-profile case, High Court spokesperson Wang Ping-hsia (王屏夏) said that although the defendant Wang Ching-yu (王景玉) was diagnosed with schizophrenia, doctors determined that at the time of the attack, he was cognitively normal and able to control himself.

The High Court, therefore, saw no reason to reduce the life sentence imposed by the lower court, the spokesperson said, citing Article 19 of the Criminal Code that lists mental illness as possible grounds for a commuted sentence.

The court, however, decided against imposing the death sentence because it concluded that Wang's schizophrenic condition could improve with the right treatment, which would reduce the chances of him committing a similar crime in the future, according to the spokesperson.

Citing doctors' testimony, she said Wang is believed to have committed the crime while suffering hallucinations caused by his schizophrenia.

The spokesperson said that because Wang's family was not aware of his unstable mental condition, he had not been receiving psychiatric treatment, which led to the tragic killing.

The case can still be appealed.

The gruesome killing occurred on March 28, 2016 when Little Light Bulb and her mother Claire Wang (王婉諭) were on their way to a metro station in the city's Neihu District.

Wang Ching-yu grabbed the child from behind and beheaded her with a cleaver.

The Taipei District Prosecutors Office had sought capital punishment for Wang Ching-yu, but the Taipei District Court gave him a life sentence in May 2017, and the Taiwan High Court upheld that ruling in July 2018.

Prosecutors appealed the case, taking it to the Supreme Court, which sent it back to the High Court in December 2018 for retrial, saying that no medical testimony had been presented in the lower court to determine Wang's mental state.

Meanwhile, Claire Wang, who became a prominent social activist after the death of her daughter, gained at at-large legislative seat on the opposition New Power Party ticket in the Jan. 11 general elections and will begin serving in the Legislature in February.

(By Liu Shih-yi and Joseph Yeh)

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