Sitting in the dock in a courtroom in Beijing in 2006, 22-year-old Wu Jiang listened with furrowed eyebrows as the court found him guilty of causing the death of his girlfriend Zhu Yue Ping. He was given a suspended death sentence pending two years’ probation.
Heads were bowed as a deep sense of regret swept through the courtroom. Wu Jiang was no gangster. He had no record of violent crimes. In fact, much to the shock of those who had been following the case, he was a student leader, a top student and a role model at Beijing University of Technology. How did this promising young man with a bright future end up with one foot in the gallows?
Wu Jiang’s father was a logistics staff member at a government agency. When Wu Jiang was only two years old, his parents divorced. Since then, Wu saw very little of his mother. Wu Jiang was brought up by his father and grandmother. In spite of the challenges he faced, Wu Jiang turned out to be an exemplary student. He excelled in his studies and apart from being a man of few words, he showed no signs of someone lacking in motherly love.
In 2003, Wu Jiang was admitted to the Department of Foreign Languages, School of Foreign Languages, Beijing University of Technology and became a leader of the Propaganda Department of the Foreign Languages College Youth League Committee. While still a freshman, Wu Jiang met Zhu Yueping (a pseudonym) of the English Department.
Wu was popular and well-known at the university. It was Zhu who first approached him and introduced herself. Wu remembered being taken aback by her brazen approach. Wu and Zhu had little opportunity to communicate until a track and field meet in 2004 when they ended up as team members. From then on, they had been texting each other.
Their romance started in June 2005. At that time, Wu Jiang’s father bought Wu a new car to reward him for his good performance in school. From then on, Wu became a volunteer driver who gave rides and ran errands for his classmates. The one who asked him for help most frequently was of course Zhu Yueping. Over time, their relationship grew.
They went out for meals, movies and shopping. Whenever they went shopping, Wu, who had fallen in love with Zhu by then, readily paid for her purchases.
On July 19, 2005, Wu Jiang drove Zhu Yueping to Tianjin for a holiday. Near Tianjin Airport, Wu parked his car and went to buy a map with Zhu. When they returned, they found that the car window had been broken. Zhu Yueping’s bag which was left in the car had disappeared. Apart from money, Zhu Yueping also had many important documents are in her bag. Zhu Yuping’s panicked and cried incessantly.
Wu Jiang was calm and collected. He consoled Zhu Yueping and called the police, giving them all the information they needed. In no time, the police arrested the thief and recovered Zhu Yueping’s bag. Zhu was so impressed with the way Wu Jiang handled the crisis that she hugged Wu Jiang. The couple grew intimate. After returning to Beijing, they started cohabiting.
As they started living together, cracks started to appear in their romantic union. The couple differed greatly in the area of money management. Zhu Yueping believed that “the man should be the one paying all the expenses.” Still a student, Wu depended on his father for financial support and his father only gave him 600 yuan a month. Before living with Zhu, he had managed to save 2,000 yuan. After they cohabited, he was often left penniless at the end of the month. He even had to dig into his savings. Before long, he was broke and ended up borrowing money from friends and teachers. He became indebted to the tune of 6,000 yuan.
Their troubles did not end there. Zhu suddenly discovered that she was pregnant. They both decided to abort, but they had no money. In desperation, Wu sold his car for 60,000 yuan without telling Zhu. When she found out, she was so upset with Wu that she refused to go out with him. Wu rented a car to satisfy her. Even though Zhu was aware of Wu’s financial difficulties, she continued to splurge, seeing his problems as his problem alone.
Stressed by his financial situation, Wu would often fight with Zhu. On a few occasions, he would grab her by the neck and threaten to strangle her. Nevertheless, Zhu continued to see Wu as a worthy partner as his father owned a house in Beijing. It was conveniently located near the university. Eager to move in, Zhu started buying furniture and other household items.
At the beginning of 2006, Wu Jiang’s father got his young girlfriend pregnant and told him that he could not move in. Wu was happy for his father, but Zhu went berserk. She asked Wu to demand for the house from his father. To satisfy Zhu, Wu Jiang made the request. Father and son ended up quarrelling. Torn between the father and Zhu, Wu found himself at the verge of a nervous breakdown.
Zhu had brazenly disregarded the old man’s wishes. She wanted to move in against his wishes and see if he could bear to kick them out. On April 8, 2006, Zhu called Wu to the furniture mall to buy a bunch of pots and pans and furniture bedding. She had planned to move in the week after that.
Wu Jiang disagreed with her actions and begged for her patience.
Zhu said she was concerned that more issues would crop up if they didn’t take drastic action. She ridiculed Wu “indecisiveness”. She urged him to go right ahead and move in.
Wu was confused and deeply troubled. He didn’t want to lose Zhu and he didn’t want to offend his father. They quarreled for a while, then fell silent and were about to make out in the car when Zhu suddenly pushed him aside and demanded to go to the house immediately after they had finished making love.
A thousand thoughts like a stream of arrows, pierced Wu Jiang’s mind. Was this really love? Why was he being manipulated all the way? Why did it seem like a transaction? His blood began to boil. He felt cheated and taken for a fool. He became violent like never before. His hands gripped Zhu Yueping’s neck and squeezed with all his might. Zhu Yueping had no time to react. She barely shouted or struggled. After 10 minutes, her face was purple and she was motionless.
The next morning, Wu Jiang drove Zhu Yueping’s body out and left the car in the underground garage of the Oriental Plaza.
On April 11, Wu Jiang wrote a suicide note at a bathhouse, then realised that he didn’t have money to settle the bill. He ended up calling his classmate to bring him back to the dormitory. Unable to hold the secret any longer, he told them everything. He then disappeared, looking for a place to drown himself. His classmates contacted his father and they made the police report. The police found Zhu Yueping’s body in the underground parking lot of the Oriental Plaza. In the early morning of the 13th, the police arrested Wu Jiang.
During the investigations, Zhu Yueping’s diary was found to contain the following entry:
What did I do to deserve this? What did my parents do? I can’t believe that I actually ended up with him! Being piss poor is bad enough, he has the audacity to raise his voice at me. Who does he think he is? Some tycoon’s son? He lied to me numerous times, boasting about how well off he is. He hurt me. I’ve been scarred. I started to despise him and hate him. Today, he said that he is only left with the measly 60,000 yuan from the sale of his car. He told me his father can’t support us. This old man even smells poor and he has the audacity to remarry. He has absolutely no class. These few days, he even borrowed money from me. 500,200,60. He only returned me 200. There is really no redeeming feature in this guy. He let me buy lottery tickets and didn’t even win once. He thinks he has some super powers. The most horrible thing he did, he slapped me twice and told me that he is doing it on my mother’s behalf. Twice, he almost strangled me. The second time was especially bad. I nearly blacked out. If he didn’t let go, I would have … my face is swollen, my ears are ringing. What gives you the right, you worthless piece of shit?
On October 15, 2006, Wu Jiang was taken to the court of the Second Intermediate People’s Court of Beijing. Wu Jiang said that he had lost control of himself due to the financial stress accumulated over the years. The final straw was the way she totally disregarded his father’s feelings and insisted on moving into his house. At the moment he snapped, he realised that he had been manipulated.
On December 12, 2006, the Beijing No. 2 Intermediate People’s Court Wu Jiang was handed a suspended death sentence for the crime of intentional homicide. He would be deprived of political rights for life. A suspended death sentence is a special form of sentence in China. The person being sentenced will not be put to death during the period of probation. For good behaviour, his sentence would be automatically commuted to life imprisonment.
Before being brought away, Wu Jiang got down on his knees and apologised to Zhu’s parents.
© Dewdrop Publications