Execution of Yao Jiaxin

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Yao Jiaxin

On June 7, 2011, as millions of youngsters sat for the college entrance exam, 21-year-old university student Yao Jiaxin was executed by lethal injection.

According to reports, Yao pleaded, argued and cried in court in hopes of receiving a lesser sentence; however these pleas earned him no sympathy in court and his death sentence was carried out. As is shown in prison video footage, the young man, escorted by two policemen, walked from his prison cell to the execution chamber in complete silence.

Had Yao not viciously murdered a peasant woman after hitting her with his red Chevrolet on October 20, 2010, both people would probably be alive today. The woman, who was riding an electric bicycle at the time, reportedly only fractured her left leg and suffered a concussion after Yao struck her with his car.

According to Yao’s testimony, he first encountered the struck woman as she was lying on the ground crying, and also trying to memorize his license plate number. Fearful of the medical compensation he would have to pay and other difficulties, Yao took a sharp knife out of his car and stabbed the woman eight times in her chest, stomach and back.

Two days after Yao’s murder, his parents escorted him to the police to confess his crime. The case triggered nation-wide fervor, especially after his alma mater defended him as an outstanding, honest and benign student. Infuriated by a string of incidents all caused by the ‘reckless behavior of the wealthy younger generation’, the public overwhelmingly called for justice.


In April 22, 2011, the Xi’an Intermediate People’s Court sentenced Yao to death. The defendant appealed to Shaanxi Provincial Higher Court after that. During the trial, Yao argued he was forced to play piano by his parents, which caused him to occasionally smash the piano keys to release his anger. Yao claimed he stabbed the woman as a result of being accustomed to that kind of release. He also said he would like to talk to the victim’s family and agreed to do whatever they asked of him. However, the plaintiffs refused the apology and Yao’s sentence remained unchanged.

Netizens and academics have been divided in their opinions on whether Yao’s death sentence was justified. While a majority applauded the decision as a necessary justice for the victim’s family, some questioned the necessity of the death penalty, which, in their opinion, was too cruel for a 21-year-old man.

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