Chinese man accused of killing pregnant wife, setting house fire stands trial

Yan Haojie, man accused of killing his newlywed wife and setting fire to her parents' home, stands trial at the Shanghai No 1 Intermediate People's Court, Nov 19, 2020.
PHOTO: Shanghai No 1 Intermediate People's Court

A man accused of killing his newlywed wife and setting fire to her parents' home stood trial at a Shanghai court on Thursday after being charged with intentional killing and arson.

Parents of the deceased-Liu Min, a primary schoolteacher who was pregnant-said they requested the death sentence for the defendant, Yan Haojie.

"Many of the parents of my daughter's students attended her memorial service, but none from Yan's family did. Nor have Yan or his parents apologized," Liu's father was quoted as saying by local media outlet Eastday.

The Shanghai No 1 Intermediate People's Court did not report whether Yan, 27, had pleaded guilty during the hearing or apologised to the family of Liu, who was also 27.

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Prosecutors said that on the morning of March 20, Yan drove to his father-in-law's home in Pudong district and demanded money from his wife to repay his gambling debts.

After being refused, Yan allegedly took a fruit knife from the kitchen and stabbed Liu in the neck multiple times, killing her.

In order to destroy the corpse, Yan then used a lighter to ignite books and other objects at the house and fled the scene.

The fire caused serious damage to the building and items inside, according to prosecutors.

Accompanied by his adoptive father, Yan surrendered to police shortly afterward.

"But Yan has never expressed regret, nor has he offered a confession. It was like he was giving up on himself," said Liu's parents' attorney Fan Yong, a lawyer from the Shanghai Xinwei Law Firm.

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Liu's parents said that the couple met during a blind date in January 2018. They registered for marriage in August 2019 and were wed in January.

Her parents said the couple seemed to be living a peaceful life and had never been known to quarrel. Liu's mother had learned of her daughter's pregnancy the day before the killing.

Shangyou News, a news outlet under Chongqing Daily, reported that it wasn't until after their daughter's death that her parents learned that Yan had lied about his past.

According to the report, Yan had claimed that he graduated from a college in the United Kingdom and had a stable job in auto parts manufacturing.

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Yan actually did not complete his studies and has not earned a degree from any college in the UK.

He quit his auto parts job one month after registering their marriage and concealed it from his wife and parents-in-law.

Pretending to go to work every day, he actually spent a lot of time gambling online instead, Shangyou News reported.

The report also said that Yan's adoptive parents had previously paid his gambling debts, about 2 million yuan ($409,000), before he tied the knot with Liu.

The court said it will announce a verdict later.

Liu's mother said the family is not considering seeking civil compensation for now.