Chinese Google engineer faces murder trial for allegedly beating wife to death
Published: Jan 21, 2024 09:04 PM
Photo: Sina Weibo

Photo: Sina Weibo

A 27-year-old Chinese Google worker has been charged with murder after he allegedly viciously beat his wife, also a Google worker, to death inside their home in Santa Clara, California, the US, shedding light on the issue of domestic violence. 

The suspect named Chen Liren, allegedly punched his 27-year-old wife named Yu Xuanyi in the head repeatedly at their home on Valley Way in Santa Clara, a ritzy city in the heart of Silicon Valley and just miles from Google’s headquarters. 

Police were called around 11 am on January 16 to conduct a welfare check at the couple’s home by a concerned friend who said neither Chen nor his wife would answer their phones or the door, according to the Santa Clara District Attorney, the New York Post reported on Sunday. 

The friend had checked the couple’s house before reporting to the police and saw Chen inside the house “motionless on his knees, had his hands in the air and was staring blankly.”

The responding officer saw Chen through the window on his knees, staring blankly with his hands in the air and what appeared to be blood on his clothing. The police took Chen into custody, the San Francisco Standard reported.

The police found Yu lying dead on the floor in the bedroom, with severe blunt force trauma to her head. The floor, wall and door of the room were covered in blood spatter. 

According to a police detective, Chen’s right hand was extremely swollen and purple, and had blood on his clothing, legs, arms and hands. 

When asked how he hurt his hand, Chen allegedly told first responders that he punched his wife and then indicated that the attack had occurred the day prior, according to the San Francisco Standard.

The local police said that Chen is currently hospitalized but the nature and extent of his injuries were not disclosed. He is awaiting a court hearing but his arraignment has been postponed. He faces life in prison without the possibility of parole if convicted. 

Santa Clara County District Attorney Jeff Rosen emphasized the importance of addressing domestic violence and encouraged individuals who believe they or someone else is being abused by their partners to reach out to local law enforcement agencies for assistance. 

The case has sent a shock wave through the Chinese American community. Both major Chinese-language newspapers, World Journal, the largest Chinese-language newspaper in the US, and Sing Tao Daily, one of Hong Kong’s oldest Chinese language newspapers, previously put a false report of murder-suicide about the case on their front pages, triggering a media frenzy in the Chinese-speaking world, including the national media in China. 

Prosecutors said they were unaware of online reports that Chen had attempted suicide. 

According to the World Journal, the charges indicate that the offense involves severe violence and serious threats of harm to body, demonstrating “extremely cruel, malicious, or cold-hearted behavior.”

According to media reports, both Chen from Chengdu, Southwest China’s Sichuan Province, and Yu from Songyuan city in Northeast China’s Jilin Province, were elite students in their respective high schools. Their perfect education background and work experience had allowed them to live an enviable life. 

Both Chen and Yu graduated from Tsinghua University in China in 2018 and they both furthered their study at the University of California San Diego between 2018 and 2019, with the same major. 

Chen was employed by Google as a software engineer in March of 2020 and Yu interned at Amazon upon graduation before she joined Google as a software engineer in June of 2021. 

According to property records, the couple’s house was bought by Yu for approximately $2 million in April of 2023. 

Their neighbors mentioned that the young couple had just moved to this street, with most of the residents being long-time retirees. When the young couple just moved in, they even gave cookies to their neighbors. There had been no disturbances or arguments between the couple on ordinary days. 

Speculation about the cause of the tragic incident was that the couple may have encountered the recent layoff from Google and they could no longer afford the mortgage, which resulted in the crime. However, their information still can be searched in Google’s company system. And Google insiders said they could not be told whether the two were currently undergoing layoffs.

The tragic incident soon triggered discussions about the concerns to elite students’ psychological resilience, with many netizens feeling sorry for the two young people who were such prosperous despite possible current setbacks. 

Other netizens think that the couple should not have both worked in such a highly pressured industry since they could not pacify and relieve the pressure for each other. 

There are still other netizens speculating that they might had problems with their relationship. 

Global Times