The daughter of the woman Chu Ming Feng murdered in 2006 told B.C. Supreme Court in a victim impact statement on Thursday that the sorrow she felt as a teenager has never gone away.
Feng and accomplice Guo Wei Liang used a belt to strangle 41-year-old Rong Lilly Li, who was a loan shark at River Rock casino in Richmond, and buried her body the next day at Jericho Beach in Vancouver.
Feng was convicted of first degree murder in 2009. A judge and jury are considering his application for early parole under the so-called faint hope clause. Feng has served more than 15 years of a mandatory 25-year prison sentence and claims to be a changed man. He is eligible for full parole in 2031, but his lawyer wants the sentence reduced by five years.
“My family immigrated to Canada from China in the hopes of having better lives. When my mother was murdered, all I could think was I wish we never came, because if we hadn't, I would still have my mom,” said the letter from Ahi Yan Chen, recited in court by Crown prosecutor Jeremy Hermanson.
Chen, also known as Wendy, wrote that depression and anxiety caused her to quit school. She still finds it hard to cope with the overwhelming grief and feels revictimized by Feng’s bid to get out of jail sooner.
“Mr. Feng's actions have caused me so much pain,” Chen wrote. “He took the most important person from me. This man was sentenced by a judge for the murder of my mom and I do not believe that he should be able to apply for parole until he has served his sentence that was imposed on him by the courts.”
Feng initially denied his role in the May 26, 2006 killing. He has been in custody since September 2006, after he delivered a letter to the Richmond RCMP confessing to the crime. He did not testify at his trial in 2009, where he was convicted after his lawyer claimed Feng temporarily lost judgment because Liang gave him an intoxicating water.
Feng testified Tuesday that he had become a gambling addict while working at a fish market with Liang. He owed $10,000 on a credit card and was motivated to participate in Liang’s scheme in the hope of splitting the $150,000 to $300,000 in casino chips that Liang said she usually carried. Li was carrying only $500 in cash and $2,000 in chips when she was killed.
Feng’s lawyer, Eric Purtzki, said in his closing argument that his client had accepted responsibility and remorse for the murder and asked the jury to reduce his sentence from 25 years to 20.
“In the course of his marriage, he admitted that he lied to the spouse and, by his own admission, caused his marriage to fail,” Purtzki said. “He engaged in heavy gambling, which resulted in significant financial losses and he had debts. And, most importantly, reflecting his character, he decided to participate in the murder of a woman, Ms. Li, a woman we know nothing about, for the hope of some money.”
In his closing argument, Hermanson said Feng continues to minimize his responsibility and continues to engage in impression management and cognitive distortions.
“Somebody will likely find it hard to accept a direct line from a $10,000 credit card debt to participating in strangulation and disposal of a body,” Hermanson said. “His explanation of gambling may not ring true.”
For 15 years, Hermanson said, Feng refused to accept responsibility, continued to claim he acted impulsively and that he never meant to hurt anybody.
“None of these claims is true. What does this tell you about him?” Hermanson said to the jury.