American woman sentenced to 25 years for killing Chinese student after rear-end crash

Xinhua
American woman Holly Davis was sentenced to 25 years in prison on Friday in a court in Arizona for murdering a Chinese student after a rear-end collision in 2016.
Xinhua

American woman Holly Davis was sentenced to 25 years in prison on Friday in a court in the western US state of Arizona for murdering a Chinese student after a rear-end collision in 2016.

A judge in Maricopa County Superior Court sentenced Davis to 25 years with no possibility of early release for second-degree murder in the fatal shooting of Jiang Yue in January 2016, a 19-year-old Chinese student who got scholarships to study at Arizona State University,.

Jiang was driving her car when rear-ended by Davis in the Arizona city of Tempe. Davis then got out of her Volkswagen Passat, walked up to Jiang's car and opened fire.

The shooting killed Jiang, who was in the driver's seat, and injured six others after Jiang's car veered out of control into an intersection and struck an oncoming car. Davis fled the scene and was later taken into custody by police. She has remained in jail since then.

Dressed in black with a small white flower in her hair, Xu Xiang, the victim's cousin, was present in the court on Friday.

Xu glared at Davis before she stepped towards the center of the court to make her statement.

She wept and called Davis a monster. "All I want to say is no matter how much you dress yourself up like a human, the inhumane acts you did to Yue's life will not disappear," she said.

"No words can express how sorry I am. I am so sorry," Davis told the judge in the court, accompanied by her lawyer.

"We tried our best to fight for justice," Xu said after the trial. "We had no choice but to face it," she said.

"We are grateful for all people offering help to us throughout the entire process, including the Chinese consulate, attorney, overseas Chinese organizations, schoolmates and Arizona State University," she said, "we hope such tragedies end there."

In order to avoid being too sad or emotional, Jiang's father, who has also traveled from China to Phoenix for the trial, did not appear in the court.

The Consulate General of China in Los Angeles told Xinhua on Friday that they pay close attention to Jiang's case and follow-up trials, and have provided necessary consular assistance to Jiang's family.

"We think the judiciary should put proper punishment in place, strive for justice, and prevent reoccurrence of such tragedies," the consulate said.

Yang Wentian, Chairman of Arizona Chinese Association told Xinhua that Chinese in Arizona are very concerned about Jiang's case, and they will continue to offer help to Jiang's family.

Larry Roberts, an American attorney from the Law Offices of Larry M. Roberts, based in California, told Xinhua, "The difference between 1st degree and second-degree murder doesn't mean her second-degree murder is less important or heinous, it means 1st degree murder is premeditated -- planned in advance. Second-degree murder is spontaneous and may result from a sudden rage, such as road rage."

"Often the District Attorney believes the safest way to ensure that the family of the victim gets justice for their daughter's tragic death is to have the perpetrator plea-bargain to a second-degree murder charge, especially for road rage cases. That way the perpetrator is guaranteed to go to jail and cannot appeal the judge's sentence. Also, in a 1st degree murder trial, if victim is an ethnic minority, and any of the people on the jury are racist, you can get a hung jury, and the perpetrator might even get off free. 1st degree murder trials can also drag on for many years, with multiple appeals, and the perpetrator may be able to go about their normal life during that whole time," he added.

"There is never any explanation for a terrible crime such as this. It is simply brutal, shocking and, as an American, shameful," said Cynthia D. Fisher, Senior Crisis Management Attorney of the Kavinoky Law Firm.

"While our criminal justice system is deeply flawed and calls for much improvement, for now, these are the laws of this United States and we must abide them," said Fisher.

"When legal personnel step into the courtroom they must put aside their emotions and replace them with intellect and thought. The court must consider all the circumstances, like criminal history, the mindset and intention of the perpetrator, and the event itself," Fisher added.

"There is no question that the act of Holly Davis was a despicable act. Many would feel, as I do, that after such an incident the accused should be put away for life-to try to impose a punishment that would logically fit the crime," said Jesse Weiner, a counsel from Yingke Law Firm.

"In this case, the Arizona district attorney decided to allow Holly Davis to plead guilty to second degree murder. While it is possible that discrimination colored the decision making of the district attorney, it is much more likely that the authorities realized that it would be very difficult to prove all the elements of first degree murder 'beyond a reasonable doubt' -- the high standard that must be met in all criminal prosecutions." Weiner said.

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