High court changes sentence for double murder perpetrator Hsieh Yi-han from death to life imprisonment

A high court on Wednesday changed the sentence for a woman who was convicted of double murder from death to life imprisonment. (By Central News Agency)

Taipei (Taiwan News)--A high court on Wednesday changed the sentence for a woman who was convicted of double murder from death to life imprisonment, angering victims’ family who were discussing with lawyers to appeal against the sentence.

Defendant Hsieh Yi-han has been sentenced to death in the first, second trials and the first retrial for the double murder she was convicted of committing in February, 2013, but the Supreme Court threw out the original sentence and ordered a retrial.

According to the court paper, Hsieh Yi-han was a manager of MomMouth Coffee, a café located near the bank of the Tamsui River in Bali District, New Taipei city. Businessman Chen Chin-fu and his wife, Chang Tsui-ping visited the cafe very often and got well-acquainted with Hsieh. Starting in 2010, as Chen had been very fond of Hsieh, he began to give her money, jewelry and gifts, taught her how to invest in the stock market and opened an account for her. Chen even considered taking Hsieh as his stepdaughter.

As Hsieh was getting married, she intended to stop her extraordinary personal and monetary relationship with Chen, the court paper said.  

From her interaction with the couple, Hsieh knew they were wealthy, the court said, concluding that her motive for the double murder was to obtain the couple’s wealth.

In the previous trials, Hsieh had accused Chen of trying to have intimate relationship with her, but the court dismissed her argument for lack of evidence.  

The court paper said Hsieh obtained sleeping pills from a clinic near her home and got a fruit knife ready before the murder. On Feb 16, 2013, she drugged the couple with the sleeping pills, dragged them to a mangrove forest near the café, killed both of them with the knife and left their bodies on the bank. She also took away Chang’s handbag. Hsieh withdrew money from the victims’ bank accounts using the couple’s passbooks and seals at two occasions in the same month after the murder.  

Before delivering the sentence at 11 a.m. in the second retrial, the Taiwan High Court spent 10 minutes explaining the court’s reasons for changing the death sentence to life imprisonment. The court said it adopted the evaluation of Central Police University professor Shen Sheng-ang and National Taiwan University Psychology Professor Teoh Yee-san that Hsieh can still be socialized and rehabilitated.

The court held that correction evaluation during her custody found that the chance of her recidivism is very low. Therefore, the high court gave her a chance to correct herself and sentenced her to life imprisonment, which doesn’t allow parole until serving for 25 years according to law.  

Chen’s family said they couldn’t accept the sentence that spares the life of a person who committed double murder, adding that they will discuss with lawyers to appeal against the sentence. They added that Hsieh had been sentenced to pay NT$10 million to the victims’ family but had not paid anything.