Court upholds conviction for 250-stab-wound murder

Convicted man said he blacked out

B.C.’s Court of Appeal has upheld the second-degree murder conviction of a man who attacked his wife with a knife and inflicted more than 250 wounds. 

 A jury convicted Jian Hu (James) Wu  in 2017 of the May 2014 death of Jin (Jenna) Cheng.

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Hu admitted he killed his wife but argued that trial evidence of intent, including expert evidence of two doctors who testified Hu was likely in an abnormal dissociative mental state at the time of the killing, went no further than meriting a manslaughter conviction.

Wu was sentenced in BC Supreme Court to life in prison without possibility of parole for 10 years.

The trial court heard the marriage was an unhappy one.

On the date of Cheng’s death, Cheng excluded Wu from a family outing with Cheng’s daughter. At lunchtime, he became angry when Cheng also excluded him from lunch.

The trial court heard she waved a knife at him, that he became frightened and pushed her out of their kitchen.

“The next thing he remembered was sitting in the apartment hallway near Ms. Cheng’s body and a police officer was talking to him,” said Justice Bruce Butler in the decision, concurring with two other judges.

The attack began in the suite and continued in a hallway observed by a neighbour who had taken the Cheng’s seven-year-old child into his suite.

“Mr. Wu repeatedly targeted an extremely vulnerable part of the deceased: her head and neck,” the trial court ruling said. “Ms. Cheng suffered at least 250 stab and chop-type wounds with her injuries most densely distributed over the left rear aspect of her neck, elsewhere over her head and neck, both of her hands, the distal left forearm/ wrist region and over her forearms. The two injuries which were the likely cause of her death were the cutting of Ms. Cheng’s jugular vein, and the near-total cutting of her carotid artery.”

Cheng knocked on a neighbour’s door during the attack. The trial decision said the occupants heard, through their closed door, Cheng say “Mandarin words to the effect of, ‘Save me.’”

The first officer at the scene saw Wu lying on the floor next to Cheng with a knife next to her head.

Wu’s lawyer argued in the appeal court that the trial judge’s instructions to the jury didn’t “adequately equip the jury to deal with the particular circumstances of the offence, the evidence of the appellant’s mental state and the defence position that the Crown could not prove the specific intent required for murder,” Bruce’s decision said.

“I cannot accept the appellant’s submissions,” Bruce said. “The jury could not have been confused by the choice between second-degree murder and manslaughter.”


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