A woman who says she killed an intruder in self-defense will not be charged for homicide, according to an official document shared by a domestic news outlet Tuesday.
In a document dated Sunday, a public security bureau in Laiyuan County, Hebei province, said it is ending its investigation of 22-year-old Xiaofei — a pseudonym given by media — though her parents are still being detained, Chongqing-based online news outlet CQCB.com reported. Police arrested the three in July of last year for alleged intentional homicide, accusing them of killing a man — identified by the pseudonym Wang Lei — who the family says broke into their house.
According to the media report, which cited police records, Wang had entered Xiaofei’s family home in Laiyuan with a knife and crowbar and attacked the three. The family retaliated and continued attacking even after Wang fell on the ground, which eventually caused his death at the scene of the incident. An earlier CQCB.com report from January also claimed that Xiaofei had rejected Wang’s romantic advances — the two had met in February 2018 while they worked at her mother’s restaurant — after which he started stalking and harassing her.
“If we hadn’t fought back, he might have killed us,” Xiaofei said in a separate interview with CQCB.com on Tuesday. “We kept attacking him even when he was on the ground because we were really scared that he would get up to attack us again.”
China’s criminal law states that anyone involved in hurting or killing perpetrators in cases such as assault, murder, robbery, rape, and kidnapping, among others, shall not bear criminal responsibility. Breaking into a person’s residence is also a criminal offense and can be punishable by a prison sentence of up to three years.
The Hebei case has once again reignited discussion about justifiable defense among Chinese netizens, with a hashtag translating to “Hebei Laiyuan Home Invasion Homicide Case” viewed over 180 million times on the microblogging platform Weibo by Thursday morning. Similar online debates ensued last week after police in the eastern city of Fuzhou reopened the case of a man who — though he says he was defending his neighbor during an attempted rape — was detained for “deliberately injuring” the alleged perpetrator.
Wang Fei, a criminal lawyer with Beijing Zebo Law Firm, told Sixth Tone that although criminals deserve punishment of some kind, Wang Lei’s extrajudicial killing may not be justified.
“If Wang Lei no longer presented a threat to the family after he fell on the ground, the family’s continued counterattack could constitute excessive self-defense,” said the lawyer. “But the conclusion cannot be made yet, as the police haven’t revealed enough details.”
Yin Qingli, the family’s lawyer, said on Tuesday via Weibo that while the local public security organ has ended its investigation of Xiaofei, her parents’ case has been transferred to the Laiyuan County People’s Procuratorate for further review and possible prosecution.
Editor: Bibek Bhandari.
(Header image: F1online/VCG)