Taiwan's 'Murder Cafe' suspect sentenced to death

TAIPEI, Taiwan - "Murder Cafe" suspect Hsieh Yi-han (謝依涵) yesterday was sentenced to death over charges of robbery and the murder of victims Chen Chin-fu (陳進福) and his wife Chang Tsui-ping (張翠萍). Hsieh was quoted by her attorney Cheng Kai-hung (鄭凱鴻) as saying that she will appeal the ruling.

The Shilin District Prosecutors Office, which is responsible for Hsieh's case, said it would respect the Shilin District Court's ruling.

Hsieh, a former employee at Mama Mouth Cafe (媽媽嘴) in New Taipei City's Bali District, was accused of drugging the wealthy couple in the cafe, accompanying them from the cafe and finally stabbing them to death in a mangrove wetland on Feb. 16.

The couple was found dead a few days later on the banks of the Tamsui River.

Prosecutors said Hsieh allegedly put on makeup and dressed up in an attempt to look like Chang, then took Chang's bank account book and seal and tried to withdraw money and items in Chang's safety deposit box at a bank.

During the initial investigation, prosecutors summoned Hsieh, Lu Ping-hung (呂炳宏), Ou Shih-chen (歐石城) and Chung Tien-feng (鍾典峰) for questioning over the high-profile double homicide. The four all worked at the same cafe.

In March, Hsieh was detained and held incommunicado, and the other three were cleared of suspicion by prosecutors.

During a court session, Hsieh confessed to killing the couple. She said that Chen gave her the key to Chang's safety box and gave her his consent to steal Chang's valuables. She further confessed that after obtaining the key from Chen, she invited Chen and his wife to a coffee shop at which she worked, drugging then killing the wealthy couple.

Hsieh provided contradictory testimony on several occasions during court sessions. She once claimed that the three other staff of Mama Mouth were her accomplices, but later said she and the victim Chen had an "irregular relationship," and accused Chen of also being a perpetrator.

The Shilin District Court charged Hsieh with forgery, fraud and theft, as well the act of robbery and murder, and passed down a death sentence for Hsieh. The court also deprived her of her civil rights for life.

The Prosecutors' Office said that the victim's family in July pressed charges against Hsieh's boyfriend Chu Yi-feng (祝宜夆) over allegations that he was an accomplice of Hsieh, and noted that it is currently investigating the case.

Second Woman on Death Row in 23 Years

Earlier in June, the Supreme Court finalized Lin Yu-ju's (林于如) death sentence, which made her the first female to be put on death row in 23 years. Lin was sentenced for the murder of her husband for insurance money.

Local commentators said Hsieh would be the second, should her ruling be upheld by the Supreme Court.