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August 25, 2010

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Man, 23, robs, kills roommate

A YOUNG man is facing robbery and murder charges for allegedly breaking into a house in March, robbing a woman and suffocating her to death. He was reported to police by his father and cousin, the Shanghai No. 1 Intermediate People's Court heard yesterday.

The defendant Lu Songhua, 23, shared a rented apartment in the Pudong New Area with Ma Jing, the victim, and four other tenants. On the night of March 10, he cajoled 25-year-old Ma, a Jilin Province native, to open the door of her room for him, saying that the apartment owner had a letter for her. When Ma obliged, he broke into her room, and held Ma down to the ground, threatening her with a 30-centimeter knife.

Lu then tied up Ma's arms and legs, sealed her mouth with cello tape, and placed her on the bed. He searched her room, finding a bank card, a transportation card, a cell phone and about 1,000 yuan (US$147) in cash.

"I owed a bank about 11,000 yuan, and owed family members another 60,000 yuan," he said in court.

Lu forced out the bank card code from Ma, who pleaded with him not to kill her. Lu thought that he would not be caught if Ma died, so he strangled her with an Internet cable. "The whole killing process lasted about 15 minutes," he confessed. "I didn't use the knife because it would have been too hard to wash away the blood."

Lu later dragged Ma's body to his own room. Although, the four other tenants were in their rooms, no one saw or heard anything.

The next day, Lu stuffed the corpse in a bag, with the aim of disposing it. But since he couldn't do it alone, he called his cousin Ni Xuchen. Lu didn't tell Ni what was in the bag, but Ni was quick to guess. He urged Lu to surrender to police but was rebuffed. Ni then ran out on the excuse of calling a cab, and called the police instead.

When police reached Lu's flat, however, he had fled to Chongming Island, his birth place. He dumped the corpse into a public greenery on the island, prosecutors alleged.

When Lu's father heard about the case from Ni, he led Chongming police to Lu, who was hiding at his grandfather's home.

Judges heard the case yesterday without handing down a verdict.


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