A Toronto man who brutally murdered his ex-girlfriend and then carved up her body and scattered the pieces to cover up his crime may not have acted entirely alone, an Ontario Superior Court judge said Friday in sentencing him to life in prison with no parole eligibility for 18 years.
While the jury found Chun Qi Jiang was the one to fatally stab 41-year-old Guang Hua Liu two years ago, evidence presented at trial suggests his late mother helped in the cleanup, Judge Gisele Miller said in her decision.
"It may well be that his mother assisted him," despite the Crown's position that Jiang was the sole perpetrator, she said.
Jiang was found guilty in June of second-degree murder in the grisly slaying, a verdict that carries an automatic life sentence without parole for 10 to 25 years. Prosecutors had pushed for 20 years before he could apply for parole, while defence lawyers proposed 15.
"Nothing in the sentence can bring Ms. Liu back," Miller told the court. Rather, the ruling "is meant to express the community's repugnance for this conduct."
That Liu was killed in a "brutal attack" by a former boyfriend is considered an aggravating factor, the judge said, as are Jiang's efforts to cover his tracks by destroying evidence and desecrating her body.
However, the judge dismissed the Crown's argument that the attack showed "elements of planning," which would justify a longer period of parole ineligibility.
A Toronto man convicted in the "savage" killing and dismemberment of his ex-girlfriend should have to spend 20 years behind bars before he can apply for parole, prosecutors said Friday.
Chun Qi Jiang was found guilty in June of second-degree murder in the brutal slaying of 41-year-old Guang Hua Liu, with whom he'd had an on-again, off-again relationship for four years.
The conviction carries an automatic life sentence without parole for 10 to 25 years.
Seven of the 12 jurors recommended a 25-year period of ineligibility, but the decision falls to Superior Court Judge Gisele Miller. The defence is proposing 15 years.
In his sentencing submissions Friday in Brampton, Ont., Crown lawyer Brian McGuire said the horrific nature of the crime — and the fact that it was committed by someone Liu trusted — calls for a longer period without parole.
"This was an attack that was prolonged, it was persistent, it was savage, it was heartless and it was cowardly," he said.
Liu had every reason to trust Jiang and expect to be treated with dignity and respect when she agreed to meet with him that night in August 2012, the lawyer said.
"He breached that trust," he said, noting that domestic violence is typically considered an aggravating factor.
There were also "elements of planning and elements of deliberation" in the slaying, though not enough to warrant a first-degree murder conviction, McGuire said.
The defence was quick to contest that suggestion, saying the attack was "consistent with a homicide that happened in the heat of the moment."
Liu, a single mother of three who ran a massage parlour, had been caught in a love triangle that prosecutors alleged turned deadly after she rejected Jiang for his rival.
He was arrested in the weeks after her body parts began to surface in Toronto-area waterways and parks, triggering a massive investigation.
During his trial, Jiang pinned the murder on his late mother, testifying the 66-year-old woman stabbed and dismembered Liu in a fit of rage over allegedly stolen jewelry. He admitted to helping her dispose of Liu's remains and cover up the crime.
Jiang declined to address the court Friday but his lawyer, Kathryn Wells, said he maintains he did not kill his former girlfriend.
She said her client has no history of violence or anti-social behaviour, and could be rehabilitated in prison despite a significant language barrier.
Keeping Jiang behind bars an additional five years won't improve his chances of reintegrating into society, Wells said.
Neither Liu's new boyfriend nor her family members were in court.