A Toronto man was convicted Thursday of second-degree murder for killing his ex-girlfriend, cutting up her body and scattering the pieces – a verdict that indicates the jury did not believe his defence that his mother was the real killer.
The jury deliberated for about 13 hours before finding Chun Qi Jiang guilty in the death of 41-year-old Guang Hua Liu, whose body parts were found in several Toronto-area locations in August, 2012.
Jiang, who wore a plaid, button-down shirt and tan slacks, looked straight ahead as the jury read out the verdict, which carries an automatic life sentence with no chance of parole for between 10 and 25 years.
No family members were present at the conclusion of the four-week trial, in which prosecutors said Jiang killed Liu, with whom he had an on-again-off-again relationship, after she rejected him for another man.
But the defence said it was Jiang's 66-year-old mother who fatally stabbed and dismembered Liu in a fit of rage over allegedly stolen jewellery, while her son simply helped cover up the gruesome crime.
Jiang was charged with first-degree murder, and in her final instructions to the jury this week, Ontario Superior Court Justice Gisele Miller said in order to find him guilty of that charge, jurors would have to find he deliberately set out to kill Liu or cause her potentially fatal harm.
The verdict of second-degree murder indicates the jury believed Jiang meant to kill Liu, but didn't plan to do so.
Court heard Liu's head and body showed more than 40 "chop-like" wounds caused by a sharp-edged object, possibly a hatchet or cleaver.
The trial has also heard Liu's blood was found in the accused's basement and in the trunk of his car, while a pair of rubber gloves found in a kitchen drawer tested positive for both Liu and Jiang's DNA.
Crown attorney Brian McGuire had argued the brutality of the assault on Liu, coupled with the careful eradication of any evidence that might point to her death, prove she was never meant to survive.
Jiang was familiar with the areas where her remains were dumped and made sure to leave her head, the most identifiable part, as far away from his home as possible, while still giving himself time to clean up the scene of the crime, he said.
Prosecutors also suggested Jiang's ailing mother would not have been physically able to overpower a fit, 41-year-old woman and walk away "without so much as a scratch."
Jiang testified he did not call police or an ambulance after the grisly incident that took place in the basement of his home. He admitted to bringing up parts of Liu's body to be washed in the kitchen sink and packing them in plastic bags, but insisted it was his mother who cut up the body.
He also told the court he put Liu's torso into a suitcase, went through the contents of her purse and put her belongings in bags to be disposed of with her remains.