Taixing Kindergarten Attacker Gets Death Penalty

You may have already seen, but the kindergarten attacker who didn’t kill anyone has already been tried and sentenced to death:

A local court on Saturday sentenced to death a man who attacked and hurt 29 children and three teachers at an eastern Chinese city kindergarten last month.

The Taixing Intermediate Court found Xu Yuyuan guilty of intentional homicide after a half-day open trial, which was attended by 300 people.

Xu admitted to the court his motive was to vent his rage against society.

It was not known whether Xu would appeal his sentence.

So, apparently, there isn’t a mental health issue here and Xu’s motive really was “rage against society”. I’d be inclined to doubt Xinhua on this and to suspect that Xu’s confession and M.O. were manufactured, except that I really don’t see how this helps the government at all. Sure, it looks good to get the trial and sentence through so quickly, but the idea that an apparently-sane person was so full of “rage against society” that he tried to butcher dozens of kindergartners doesn’t exactly shine brightly on the people administering that society.

Still, if he was angry at society, it fits in with the speculation that’s been happening in domestic and international media. You know what no one ever guessed? That these attacks were motivated by snakes. But apparently the most recent one was:

What caused the latest killing spree in Shannxi on May 12 that once again targeted young children in a kindergarten? In the incident, only two of the 20 kindergartners escaped the brutal meat cleaver. According to Xi’an Morning Post, police investigators found that the suspect, Wu Huanming, had been deeply disturbed by a variety of diseases for a couple of years. Recently the owner of the kindergarten, which rented Wu’s property, killed a snake inside. The superstitious Wu took it as the cause for the ineffectiveness of his medical treatment, and in a frenzy he went for revenge and suicide.

It will be interesting to see what the motives for the other attacks turn out to be. Are these really some reflection of society’s ills, or just a bunch of crazy people who went extra-crazy at the same time? The first two M.O.s are offering contradictory information; any bets on what the reasons for the other attacks turn out to be?

And while we’re asking questions, do you think Xu should have gotten the death penalty? One the one hand, he didn’t kill anyone. On the other hand, that appears to be mostly due to incompetence, not a kind heart.


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  1. Jones

    “Rage Against Society” has been one of my favorite bands since middle school.

    I’m not really up for anyone getting the death penalty. But that’s not saying much, I guess. However, the guy probably intended to kill. He used a meat cleaver, which really isn’t known for surgical precision. So he should get harsh punishment, but he definitely needs his head examined. I swear an actual rattlesnake made its way into the hallways of our school and was subsequently beat to death by the principal. No one in the city, even from the semi-large-for-this-small-city Asian population came in twirling swords because of it.

  2. King Tubby

    any bets on what the rea­sons for the other attacks turn out to be?

    “I got dissed on CS or CD.”

    Welcome to Oz: 6 top deadly snakes in the world Custer.
    US rattle snakes are pure wusses compared to the King Brown, Tiger, Death Adder and the Taipan.

    If it was one of the above, Wu would have taken out most of Shenzhen, and the taken a fast taxi to Guangzhou to complete his Mission from God.

    • Jones

      FACT: The Diamondback will straight chase your ass down for no apparent reason. Especially if you call it a wuss to it’s face.

  3. Some very real and interesting criminal law theory questions here that take me back (mentally) to law school. Too bad I’m exhausted from my site design, which is thankfully over now, or I would flesh out the different arguments.

    In short, there are lots of criminal justice ideas that revolve around “the act” and “the intent,” and it is no surprise that over the years, scholars have raised some of the same questions Charlie did in his post.

    Is intent sufficient? What’s the different whether someone dies or is injured if the intent was to kill? What about unintentional deaths? (The latter gets into the distinction in many jurisdictions between 1st and 2nd degree murder and manslaughter.)

    One quick thought on this verdict specifically. If the Chinese justice system is all about policy and society, and the effects of decisions, then the question about intent, attempted murder, etc. fall by the wayside. More important is how the case is perceived by everyone and whether the defendant’s actions were directed against society.

    In this case, if he raged against society, he gets a more harsh penalty. If he hacks up his best friend who was sleeping with his wife — perhaps a different outcome.

    BTW, I’m a firm proponent of judging cases on their own merits and do not particularly like seeing “policy” concerns creep into courtrooms. Impossible to get a firm notion of rule of law in a country that way.

  4. Revenge against Society… When there is some agreement that a main pillar of the CCP’s legitimacy is providing better material wealth for the people and middle class is being turned into a city huko holder norm, how are most people going to respond? When he goes and attacks a kindergarten as revenge against society… how will the public react to this seemingly monster like character?
    2 out of 2 motives publicized are not connected. No conspiracy, both people who are mentally contrary to the norm.
    Maybe this really is how it is. And maybe it is alright to have really fast trials when the guys has been caught red handed… But I am a Canadian and believe in rehabilitation. If I were a parent of any of the children at these schools I would want him dead. But shouldnt societies look out for the least amongst them?
    What I don’t doubt is that there is orchestration going on. Most court cases involve orchestration as a main component of persuading others of their arguments. With ‘fast’ and ‘resolute’ justice, China is performing its rule of law for its people. I wonder if they couldn’t have pulled off some international soft power coup over this and boosted their international image. Shows old time party ideology is still at large.

  5. Goodness

    Taixing Kindergarten Attacker Gets Death Penalty

    -Well deserved.