Female Taiwan coffee shop manager sentenced to death for double homicide
Taiwan News, Staff Writer
2013-10-29 05:36 PM
TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – The Shilin District Court on Tuesday sentenced former coffee shop operator Hsieh Yi-han to death for the homicide of an elderly couple.

The murders, set against the backdrop of a popular bicycle trail along the Tamshui River in Pali, New Taipei City, ignited a media frenzy last March.

On separate occasions, the bodies of Shih Chien University assistant professor Chang Tsui-ping, 58, and her husband, Chen Chin-fu, 79, turned up in the mangrove lining the river. After initial theories of a double suicide were dismissed, Hsieh, who managed the Mama Mouth Café close to where the bodies were found, became the chief suspect.

The court found her guilty of having drugged the couple and killed them with financial gain as the motive, reports said. She was present for the verdict but did not show any reaction when it was announced, according to local media. A brother of the murdered woman welcomed the outcome of the trial and criticized Hsieh’s failure over the past months to apologize for the deaths. Her attorney reportedly said he would appeal the district court verdict.

The couple paid frequent visits to the coffee shop, leading to media stories of financial and romantic involvement between Chen and the 30-year-old manager. The retired businessman made a fortune selling souvenirs to Taiwanese and other tourists on the Japanese island of Okinawa, according to media reports.

Last April, prosecutors charged Hsieh with murder, robbery, fraud and forgery as she reportedly wanted to steal Chang’s jewelry, estimated at a value of up to NT$40 million (US$1.3 million).

Footage from surveillance cameras showed the couple had visited Hsieh’s business on February 16, on the last evening they were seen alive. She reportedly also tried to impersonate Chang in a failed attempt to withdraw money from the victim’s bank account, investigators said.

The case expanded to include alleged involvement by owners and shareholders of the coffee shop, but three suspects were not indicted due to insufficient evidence. They later reopened the place for business.

During the course of the investigation, Hsieh repeatedly changed her account of her relationship with the couple and of the involvement of the other suspects, reports said.

Media coverage of the case reached such an extensive level that the authorities called on journalists and talk shows to tone down their reporting.

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