Death sentence upheld for 'wife in freezer' killer

Ke Jiayun
An appeal by a man sentenced to death after killing his wife and storing her body in a freezer for three months has been rejected by Shanghai Higher People's Court.
Ke Jiayun
Death sentence upheld for 'wife in freezer' killer
Shanghai Higher People's Court

Zhu Xiaodong stands trial at Shanghai Higher People's Court on Friday.

Shanghai Higher People's Court rejected an appeal made by a man who was sentenced to death after killing his wife and storing her body in a freezer for three months, upholding the death sentence on Friday morning.

The verdict will be reviewed by the Supreme People's Court.

Zhu Xiaodong, 31, was convicted of strangling his wife Yang Liping to death on October 17, 2016, during an argument. He wrapped the corpse in a bed cover and hid it in a freezer on the balcony of their home in Hongkou District.

Dressed in a black shirt and blue shorts, Zhu remained impassive during the hearing. As the court announced the verdict, his mother burst into tears.

The court gave its decisions on the three matters of dispute during the second instance on December 13 last year, when Zhu and his lawyer argued that it was a crime of passion and not an intentional homicide. The lawyer also attempted to seek leniency for Zhu by claiming that he was a first offender who turned himself in to the police.

Zhu’s defense team presented a series of Yang's Weibo screenshots which they said showed Yang and Zhu had a stormy marriage. The court ruled the screenshots were insufficient to prove it was crime of passion, and said there was no evidence that Yang herself had made the postings.

On the question of Zhu's intent, the court found that Zhu had several affairs after he and Yang married in 2015. In August 2016, two months before the murder, Zhu told his mistress that he and Yang had divorced. In the same month, he bought some "true crime" books and had them delivered to the residence of his father. The way he murdered Yang was almost exactly the same as a case in one of the books.

In September, he bought a large freezer online, which neither fitted in their home nor was in line with their ordinary lifestyle.

He took Yang to the primary school where she worked and had her resign, saying she would be going to Hong Kong with Zhu because he had been promoted. Yang's resignation was accepted a few days before she was killed, so the school had no knowledge of her movements in the following three months.

Death sentence upheld for 'wife in freezer' killer
Jiang Xiaowei / SHINE

Yang Ganlian, father of the victim, receives interviews in front of the Shanghai Higher People's Court on Friday.

After he killed Yang on October 17 morning, he transferred the remaining 45,000 yuan (US$6,544.12) in Yang's Alipay account to his own account and booked air tickets to and from South Korea on the same day. He also went out for drinks with friends at night and stayed overnight at the pub.

Later he overdrew more than 100,000 yuan with Yang's credit cards and squandered the money for personal pleasure.

He also installed devices which can allow him to monitor the condition of the freezer on his cellphone and see if someone discovered the secret in it.

Over the three months Yang's body was kept in the freezer, Zhu used her WeChat messaging account to impersonate her in communications with her friends and relatives and used her Weibo account to write postings.

The court said his calm behaviors after committing a murder is unlike an offender of impulse crime, who usually shows panic and regret, and thought he had enough psychological preparation.

For the argument on if the death penalty is too heavy and he should be given lighter penalty, the court said Zhu's deeds are completely generated from his extreme selfishness and "break the bottom line of humanity."

Fan Yong, lawyer for Yang's family, told Shanghai Daily that the victim's side was satisfied with the verdict and felt justice had been done.

"More than us, today the whole of society witnessed the fairness and justice," said Fan. "However, as a lawyer, I still felt some sadness that the lives of two young people and their families have been destroyed. There is a lot for the public to ponder about the case, and what we can do to prevent such a tragedy happening again. "

Yang Liping's father Yang Ganlian said he would go to his daughter's tomb in the afternoon to tell her the news.

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