Move to execute coffee shop killer grinds to a halt after she 'finds Christ'

Sentence for coffee shop killer officially reversed from death penalty to life in prison for murders committed in 2013

Monmouth Coffee shop killer Hsieh Yi-han in handcuffs. (By Central News Agency)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) -- A female manager of a coffee shop who had been convicted for the robbing and murder of a couple in 2013, has been given life in prison, reversing the original death sentence she faced that year. 

Today, the Supreme Court dismissed the prosecution's appeal of a life sentence handed down in 2015 to Hsieh Yi-han (謝依涵), 31, on the grounds that she confessed and that a psychological assessment found that Hsieh had made a clean break with her past errors and was at low risk of repeating her crime. 

In October 2013, Hsieh had originally been sentenced to death by the Shilin District Court in Taipei for the murder of Shih Chien University assistant professor Chang Tsui-ping (張翠萍), 58, and her husband, Chen Chin-fu (陳進福), 79, before dumping their bodies in the Tamsui River in suburban Taipei in February 2013.

Hsieh had befriended the couple when they visited the Monmouth Coffee (媽媽嘴咖啡) she was managing. Coveting the couple's large fortune, she laced their drinks with sleeping pills, stabbed them to death, and dragged their bodies into the river. Hsieh then withdrew NT$350,000 from Chen's bank account, but failed in her attempt to withdraw money from Chang's account by passing herself off as the murdered woman. The case came to light when the couple's bodies were discovered near the riverside cafe. 

The verdict was then upheld in September 2014 by the Taiwan High Court. However, Taiwan's Supreme Court in February 2015 overturned the death sentence handed down in Hsieh's first and second trials and remanded the case to the Taiwan High Court for review.

Pastor Huang Ming-chen, who met with Hsieh 20 times during her detention, said after she had found Christ, she wished to repent her sins and even hoped to reconcile with the families of the victims. This led the court to believe that there was a high probability that she could be reformed and that the death penalty was not appropriate after Taiwan signed into law the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR).

The covenant stipulates that in countries that have not abolished the death penalty, the death sentence may be imposed only for the most serious crimes in accordance with the law, and it can only be carried out pursuant to a final judgment rendered by a competent court.

However, Chen's sister said in an interview earlier this year that that the reversal of the death penalty "had led to very painful suffering, she said she was "really very unconvinced! Taking two lives and she only gets life imprisonment! Her crime should result in the death penalty! This will be the only way to serve justice in the afterlife for my brother and sister-in-law."