Richmond exchange student allegedly murdered his mom over control issues, court hears

Crown claims Yuan Xi Tang wanted both his parents dead and blamed them for the breakup with his first love in China

A jury trial began Monday in B.C. Supreme Court for Yuan Xi Tang, who is charged with first-degree murder after police found his mother's remains in a suitcase in 2013.

Yuan Xi Tang allegedly told undercover officers that he killed his mother because she was controlling, and he could not live under the control of his parents for the rest of his life.

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“He said that his mother’s control was not what he thought of as love,” Crown prosecutor Monte Ruttan told jurors during his opening statement on the first day of Tang’s trial in B.C. Supreme Court in Vancouver on Monday.

Tang allegedly wanted both of his parents, who he deemed responsible for the breakup of his relationship with his first love in China, dead. He thought he would inherit their money and go on to live a quiet life with his girlfriend.

Tang, 28, is charged with the first-degree murder of 47-year-old Lianjie Guo, whose body was discovered in a suitcase that was found on Harwood Island, near Powell River, more than seven weeks after she was reported missing in June 2012.

Ruttan said the undercover operation began in August, when a female officer posing as a Good Samaritan contacted Tang and arranged to introduce him to two of her associates.

At the meeting, two male officers told Tang that they were on a fishing trip when they discovered the suitcase containing Guo’s body floating in the ocean.

Ruttan said the officers offered to dispose of the suitcase and Guo’s body if Tang paid them. The men represented themselves as seasoned criminals.

Tang allegedly appeared unsure at first, but then asked how much it would cost. Ruttan said Tang claimed he didn’t have any money, but suggested telling his father that his mother had been kidnapped so he would pay a ransom.

The officers told Tang they would need to know the details of Guo’s death so they could clean up the evidence. Ruttan said during that meeting and others, Tang allegedly told the officers in detail about how he had killed his mother.

On the morning of June 7, 2012 — the day his parents were supposed to return to China after a long visit — Tang said his mother came to his room at the Richmond rooming house where they were all staying and he told her to clean up some coins he had scattered on his bed.

While she was tidying the bed, Tang hit her on the back of the head with a hammer. He then used the bedding to smother her. When she struggled, he hit her on the front of her head and face.

Tang said he held the bedding over her face for 20 minutes and then checked that Guo had no pulse. He put her body in a large suitcase and took it to his apartment.

Ruttan said Tang went back to the rooming house and knocked on his parents’ door. He asked his father if he had seen Guo because they had become separated at his apartment building.

Tang and his father spent the day looking for Guo. When the time came for his father to leave for China, Tang encouraged him to fly back as scheduled.

Tang told undercover officers that around 1 a.m. on June 8 he took the suitcase containing his mother’s body to the No. 2 Road bridge and dumped it into the Fraser River. He threw the hammer off the same bridge. He said he spray-painted, cut up and burned the bedding he used to smother his mom.

Just before noon that day Tang called police to report his mother missing. A recording of the call was played in court.

Ruttan said the undercover officers also told Tang that they had an associate who was dying of cancer and willing to admit to killing Guo if he was paid. The officers asked Tang to re-enact the killing so that their associate would know what to tell police, and filmed the re-enactment on a cellphone.

Tang was arrested by uniformed officers on Sept. 7, 2012, while he was in a car with one of the undercover officers.

Ruttan said Tang was interviewed that evening and initially deniedkilling his mother. However, an investigator showed him some of the evidence that they had gathered to that point.

Guo’s blood had been found all over Tang’s room at the rooming house, including on the mattress, in his storage locker, in his rental car, in a backpack that he used to transport the hammer to the bridge and on a pair of sandals.

There were key-fob records and video evidence from Tang’s apartment building.

The investigator also showed Tang video clips from his meetings with the undercover officers and told Tang that he had actually been talking to police.

Ruttan said Tang admitted to the killing and gave the police details.

Tang was placed in a cell with an undercover officer following the interview, and an audio recording of that interaction will be played for the jury.

After speaking with police, Tang wrote some letters, including one to his father acknowledging how hard Guo’s disappearance had been for him.

“The two of you have raised and nurtured me for 25 years. In the end, I took away mother. I can imagine your anguish and anger,” he wrote.

The trial continues.

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