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Toddler-death defendant says he meant no harm

Updated: 2013-09-17 01:20
By CAO YIN ( China Daily)

A man accused of killing a 2-year-old girl in Beijing after arguing with her mother has told a court he was heavily intoxicated at the time and did not mean to harm the child.

Han Lei, who faces the death penalty for intentional homicide, denied on Monday he knew the victim was in a stroller he smashed to the ground on July 23.

Toddler-death defendant says he meant no harm

Han Lei, who is accused of murdering a 2-year-old girl after quarreling with the child’s mother in Beijing on July 23, stands trial at Beijing No 1 Intermediate People’s Court on Monday. PROVIDED TO CHINA DAILY

The victim, identified only as Sun, suffered severe head injures and died in a hospital two days later.

"I never wanted to hurt anyone, let alone a child," the 39-year-old said during a three-hour hearing at Beijing No 1 Intermediate People's Court.

Prosecutors say that on July 23 Han and his friend, Li Ming, who drove a white Hyundai car, came to a bus station near Keji Road in Daxing district just before 9 pm.

Shortly afterwards, video surveillance from the scene shows Han arguing with a woman with a baby stroller, which he then picked up and threw to the ground.

A nearby streetlight and the car's headlights were both on, which prosecutors allege shows the defendant clearly could have seen there was a child in the stroller.

But in mitigation Han insisted he thought the woman only had a handcart.

His attorney, Cheng Zhunqiang, said his client is badly short-sighted and cannot see clearly after drinking heavily or in dimly lit environments.

However, no health records or samples showing the alcohol level in Han's blood after his arrest were presented to the court.

Han said he drank white wine and eight bottles of beer at a dinner with more than 10 people before taking Li's car to sing karaoke.

He said the KTV bar had no parking area, so a security guard asked them to park on the other side of the road. The child's mother was waiting for a bus on the sidewalk, and Han said what he thought was a handcart was on the road.

"We didn't want to stop the car at the bus station, but it was the only way to go," he told the court. "So I got out to talk with her, but she wasnct polite."

He confessed he then slapped the woman's face during a heated argument.

"I felt ashamed fighting a woman in public, so I transferred my rage to the handcart, throwing it to the ground. I didn't know what I'd thrown until someone shouted there was a kid," he said.

Han said he got back into Li's car and fled the scene, heading for Fangshan district, where police caught him at a swimming pool the next day.

Li surrendered to authorities on July 25 and was charged with helping and harboring a criminal.

Prosecutors read out five witness statements in court from passers-by who said they saw the child in the stroller and attempted to stop Han from hitting the girl's mother.

Pictures of the dark-blue stroller and several toys taken at the scene were presented as evidence.

In his final statement, Han, handcuffed and shackled and wearing a standard blue vest and black trousers in the dock, expressed his regret to the victim's family.

The child's parents were not at the hearing.

Prosecutors said Han had been sentenced to life in prison for car theft in 1996, and was also sentenced to a year for disturbing management of the prison. He was released in October last year.

Under Chinese Criminal Law, those who carry out an intentional crime within five years of release from prison can receive heavier punishments.

The prosecution has called for the death penalty.

Li, 48, pleaded guilty on Monday and the prosecution suggested a two-year sentence.

In addition, the lawyer representing the victim's parents has asked for more than 2.73 million yuan ($446,000) in compensation, adding that his clients refused mediation.


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