Mingdong Chen, a 27-year-old Chinese immigrant living in Brooklyn, New York, has pleaded guilty to brutally murdering five of his relatives with a meat cleaver. According to Yahoo, Chen killed his cousin’s wife, 37-year-old Qiao Zhen Li, and her children, Linda, 9; Amy, 7; Kevin, 5; and William Zhou, 18 months; in October of 2013. He is set to serve at least 125 years in prison, for charges of murder and manslaughter.
Earlier in the year, the New York Daily News reported that Chen may still be unfit for trial. After an initial psychiatric exam, a judge ordered a second psych exam in order to get a better picture of Chen’s state of mind. The initial concerns over his mental state started directly after the crime was committed. In January of 2014, the New York Daily News also reported that Chen was not in a proper mental state for a trial. When initially asked why he committed the murders, Chen gave the detectives a simple reason.
“This happened tonight because I was thinking about not having a wife and job.”
Since the majority of people are not going to kill five members of their family because of relationship and job troubles, investigators and mental health experts pressed Chen for more information. Since he was exhibiting symptoms of a severe mental illness, it was difficult for detectives to differentiate between the truths and lies that Chen was telling them. In what could be potentially viewed as a paranoid delusion, he told investigators another reason on why he attacked the five family members.
“I thought they were using me to get a green card.”
According to reports, the murder weapon was a large kitchen knife, similar to those that are used in restaurants. According to Yahoo, 37-year-old Li called her mother-in-law to tell her that Chen was in the house and threatening the family. An officer that interrogated Chen spoke on what the 27-year-old killer told him about his memory of the horrifying incident.
“He doesn’t recall anyone screaming other than his cousin’s wife telling someone on the telephone that he had a knife.”
Li’s mother-in-law immediately had other members of their family living in Brooklyn to check up on the family, but it was too late. All five members of the family were dead and Chen was the clear murderer, as he was dripping in blood. Each of the family members was stabbed repeatedly, and one of them was decapitated.
The trial was delayed so long because of the issue of Chen’s mental health. To make matters even more confusing, a defense of insanity cannot be brought up unless the defendant is able to assist in his defense. Generally, those who are considered insane will not be able to accurately and intelligently defend themselves, since they are suffering from insanity. Numerous times throughout the past two years, he has been on medication, but relapsed each time.
While Chen is not going to live for another 125 years, the point of a sentence that long was to ensure there is no way that he could ever be released. Assistant District Attorney Mark Hale spoke on the sentencing today.
“The minimum of 125 years and the maximum life sentence, gives a goal of public safety that he will never be a free person. The sentence also was a desire to avoid the family to relive the worse day of their life.”
Li’s husband and other family members were present for the trial. Since Chen, Li, and the rest of the family do not speak English, Mandarin translators were on hand.
[Images via Stewart F. House, John Moore, Frank Micelotta/Getty Images]