A KTV hostess accused of hacking her roommate to death with a chopper pleaded not guilty to one count of culpable homicide on Tuesday afternoon (Aug 16).
Chinese national Jiang Yumei was originally charged with murder, which carries the mandatory death penalty. Her charge was reduced on Tuesday morning and if found guilty, the 32-year-old could be jailed for up to 20 years, or for life.
Jiang allegedly killed roommate and colleague Zhao Jinhua, 26, also a Chinese national, sometime between 11pm on Feb 11, 2013 and 10am the next day. She turned herself in on Feb 12, when she made a police report accompanied by a friend, Mr Jimmy Ho Voo Chan, the High Court heard.
Prosecutors charged that Jiang had attacked Ms Zhao with a chopper and a knife, slashing her repeatedly on her head, face, neck and arms until she collapsed.
“The evidence shows part of the attack … would have taken place while (Ms Zhao) was on the floor,” Deputy Public Prosecutor Mohamed Faizal told the court. The attack took place in the women’s bedroom at 11 Geylang Lorong 9.
The prosecution’s first witness, forensic pathologist Dr Paul Chui, testified he recorded a total of 92 “injury clusters” on Ms Zhao’s petite frame during an autopsy.
Dr Chui said she died from multiple incised wounds, describing in detail at least 14 wounds which were deep enough to leave marks on Ms Zhao’s bones.
One wound on the back of her head stretched from her right ear to her left ear, shaving off part of her scalp. Another wound over the left side of Ms Zhao’s head was deep enough to leave a mark on her skull. A third wound across her left cheek severed a major facial artery and marked her cheekbone.
When shown pictures of the bloody wounds she allegedly inflicted on her roommate, Jiang remained impassive.
“Although (Ms Zhao) eventually succumbed to the multiple incised wounds found on her, at least three of the injuries inflicted were … sufficiently severe that each of them would, on their own, be sufficient … to cause death”, DPP Faizal said.
The DPP told the court the prosecution would also adduce evidence to show that Jiang “had made attempts to clean up the scene following the attack”, and that she had disposed of Ms Zhao’s mobile phones following the killing.
After she had killed Ms Zhao, Jiang spent much of Feb 12 with her friend Mr Ho, to whom she eventually told about what she had done to her roommate. Mr Ho immediately took Jiang to the police, and Jiang lodged a police report about the attack, prosecutors said.
Jiang’s lawyer Leo Cheng Suan said Jiang had told him Ms Zhao had attacked her first while she was asleep. Jiang claims her roommate, sitting on top of her, grabbed her throat with a knife in hand. Jiang said she flipped Ms Zhao over, grabbed the knife and attacked her.
The trial continues on Wednesday.