Court shows mercy to 83-year-old mother who killed son ‘out of love’

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Man in Wheelchair
A man pushes a wheelchair with a disabled man, who is sheltered from the rain with a plastic cover, at Galle Face Green in Colombo December 19, 2015. Reuters/Dinuka Liyanawatte

An 83-year-old woman who killed her 46-year-old severely disabled son has been given a three-year suspended prison. She had reportedly taken care of her son all his life, until she felt too ill.

The woman from southern China, identified only by her surname Huang, was found guilty of murder, but was shown leniency because of the circumstances of the case. Beijing Youth Daily reported on Monday that a court in Guangzhou, capital of Guangdong province, thought the elderly woman deserves some sympathy despite breaking the law.

The mother described it as mercy killing. She said her son was beginning to suffer physically after being bed-ridden.

The court president and head judge Wan Yunfeng said that Huang deserves mercy. Yunfeng’s comment came after the court heard that the woman fed her son about 60 sleeping pills. She also strangled him with a silk scarf and covered his nose with cotton pads.

At her trial on September, Huang said the reason she killed her son was because she was afraid nobody would take care of him when she died. She handed herself in to the police the same day.

Huang said she would never give up on her son. “But for the past two years my own health was too poor to take care of him anymore,” she added.

Her son named Li was born prematurely with severe mental and physical disabilities. He was unable to walk and talk. His condition had reportedly worsened significantly in the years before his death.

When she surrendered to police, Huang told them she was getting older and weaker. She feared she might die before his son.

“The idea of killing him occurred to me a week before [the murder] and I had been struggling,” Huang was quoted as telling the police. When asked why she did not seek hospice care for her son, the mother said Li had better food and better company with her care.

Huang's family members petitioned the court to show mercy in the case, reports. The court has recognised that she was guilty of intentional homicide, but her sentence was based on her voluntary confession, her advanced age and the pleas of her family, including her other sons.

Yunfeng said the case was different compared to other violent homicide cases. The head judge said Huang’s case is special, for a mother murdered her son “out of love.”

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