Han Lei, who has been charged with intentional homicide for killing a 34-month-old toddler, sits in the court at the Beijing No. 1 Intermediate People's Court, Beijing, Sept. 16, 2013. The court began hearing the homicide case on Monday. After a dispute with the baby's mother over a parking space, Han lifted the girl from her carriage and hurled her to the ground in the Daxing District of Beijing on July 23. The girl was severely injured and died days later despite treatment. (Xinhua/Gong Lei)
The suspect accused of killing a baby girl by hurling her to the ground said Monday at a Beijing court that he threw what he believed was a shopping cart, and did not know there was a baby inside.
The statement aroused new waves of anger from the public. Many people, already shocked by the brutal killing, which started from a trivial quarrel over a parking space between two adults in July, expressed their fury online, dismissing it as "shameless lying" despite video footage already showing the truth.
Han Lei, 39, was charged with intentional homicide for killing the 34-month-old toddler and Li Ming, who helped Han flee the scene, was charged with harboring a criminal.
The case was heard on Monday morning by the Beijing No.1 Intermediate People's Court, which didn't give an immediate verdict or announce when the case will resume.
Showing video footage obtained from the camera of a nearby restaurant, prosecutors pointed out that the mother was pushing her baby in a stroller by the curb in Daxing district on July 23 night, when a car approached. The passenger, Han, got out of the car and argued with the mother, and eventually engaged in a physical fight.
After pushing down the mother, Han lifted the baby out from her carriage, raised her above his head and hurled her to the ground. Han got back into the car Li was driving and fled. The girl was announced dead two days later.
However, Han denied he picked the girl up out of the stroller, saying he did not even know there was a baby inside what he thought was a shopping cart.
Ma Pin, the lawyer who represents the baby's parents, told the Global Times Han's argument does not hold water, as the video showed Han raised an object from the stroller and he could easily feel whether it was a baby or some goods.
Chen Yujun, a law professor from the Renmin University of China, told the Global Times that Han's argument was a normal self-defense strategy to seek a favorable verdict, but his explanation that, as an adult, he's unable to identify that what he threw was a baby can hardly be understood to be reasonable.
The lawyer representing Han said that Han was drunk that night, which resulted in his inability to identify the baby in the carriage, and Han should be convicted of homicide through negligence, according to a statement posted on the official website for Beijing courts.
China's criminal law stipulates that a person who commits homicide through negligence can be sentenced to between three and seven years in prison.
The plaintiffs, parents of the baby, asked for a total of 2.73 million yuan ($443,513) in civil compensation during the court hearing.
Han was given a life sentence for theft in 1996 and was released in October 2012 as he had received several commutations.
Prosecutors recommended that Han, who committed the crime within a year of being released from prison for another crime, be given the death sentence, and Li, who turned himself over to the police two days later be given a two-year jail term.