#Misapplication of Forensic Science #Unlawful Interrogation
At around 11 p.m. on June 23, 2000, [Kuo, Chun-Wei] and [Hsieh, Chih-Hung] met for a drink at Kuo’s home and went for a joyride. At around 2 a.m. on June 24, 2000, Kuo accosted the victim on the street outside a convenience store and invited her for a ride. The victim agreed, but they quarreled on the way.
Kuo threatened the victim with a butterfly knife and requested sexual intercourse. The victim agreed. Kuo bring the victim home and had sexual intercourse with her. Subsequently, Kuo left the room to inform his cousin sister’s husband brother-in-law that he would start work late the next day. Hsieh molested the victim during the absence of Kuo and requested sexual intercourse. The victim refused.
Kuo, Hsieh and the victim later went out for a joyride. The victims wanted to go home. Kuo became impatient and stabbed the victim with his butterfly knife. Disgruntled by the victim’s earlier refusing to have sexual intercourse, Hsieh took over Kuo’s butterfly knife and stabbed the victim. The victim was bleeding to death.
At around 4:30 a.m., Chang, a farmer, witnessed the incident. Hsieh handed the knife to Kuo and Kuo stabbed Chang twice. Hsieh then took over the knife and stabbed Chang twice. Chang was bleeding to death.
This case was remanded seven times. Kuo and Hsieh were sentenced to death at each remanded trial. Final judgment was reached in 2011 and Hsieh was sentenced to death.
First, there was no evidence proved Hsieh committed murder: (i) there was no fingerprint test operated on the murder weapon; (ii) there was no blood on Hsieh’s cloth; and (iii) there was no blood on Hsieh’s locomotive.
In addition, the police likely used torture to extort a confession from Hsieh. There were three interrogation records in relation to Hsieh prepared at the police station: (i) the first interrogation record was made in the absence of Hsieh’s attorney in which Hsieh confessed that he committed murder and sexual assault; (ii) in the second record, Hsieh alleged that he did not commit sexual assault. Hsieh’s attorney showed up during the interrogation and requested start-over of the inquiry; and (iii) the third interrogation record was made in the presence of Hsieh’s attorney in which Hsieh claimed innocence and alleged that his confession in the first interrogation record was induced under torture. The police claimed it had lost the disc recording the first interrogation, thus, unable to retrieve the situation during the interrogation.
Furthermore, the forensic report prepared in 2003 wrongfully concluded that murder was committed by two perpetrators based on the evidence of different directions of wounds on the victim’s body. This conclusion was corrected in 2010 during the seventh remanded trail where the revised report indicated that directions of wounds alone could not infer number of perpetrators.
Finally, use of polygraph test report is also controversial in this case. Kuo passed the polygraph test, while Hsieh failed his polygraph test. The court used Kuo’s polygraph test report to convict Hsieh without further investigating why Hsieh failed his polygraph test.
In 2018, there was significant progress in the Hsieh Chih-Hung case. On July 11, the The Control Yuan filed a criminal special relief procedure to raise five questions in this case. Prosecutor Lin Zhi-feng of the Tainan Branch, Taiwan High Prosecutors Office then restarted the investigation.
Prosecutor Lin discovered some new materials that the police who dealt with this case before did not unveil them to the court. Those new materials included Hsieh Chih-Hung ’s handwritten whereabouts and Kuo Junwei ’s portrait, etc. At the same time, Prosecuter Lin was back to the crime scene and found there were many controversial points in this case. Therefore, a formal retrial request was filed in September. This is the second time in Taiwan’s judicial history that prosecutors have filed for a retrial in a death penalty case. Lawyers for Hsieh Chih-Hung also proposed a retrial in October. As a matter of fact, citing the comprehensive judgment of the new evidence and reexamining the previous evidence, the High Court Tainan Branch, on March 14, 2019, believed that Hsieh Chih-Hung could have a more favorable judgment, hence reopening the case.
After 14-months of retrial, on May 15th, 2020, the High Court Tainan Branch gave Hsieh Chih-Hung a non-guilty verdict. After 7262 days, Hsieh Chih-Hung finally received the delayed justice.