A 45-year-old man found guilty of murder and attempted murder for a 2006 Burnaby shooting over an $80 debt and an insult to his mother has succeeded in getting the attempted murder conviction quashed – but how that will affect his life sentence is unclear.
$80 nightclub ticket debt
On Jan. 22, 2006, Lee Chia “Kenny” Weng, shot and killed 19-year-old Shaoxin Zhang and injured Ralph Wu in a violent clash in the parking lot of a mall at 3355 North Rd.
Weng and some friends had met with Zhang, Wu and others to discuss an alleged $80 debt for tickets to a Vancouver nightclub.
A phone call before the meeting had amped-up the bad blood, with Wu telling Weng to “f*** your mother,” and Weng telling Wu to wear a bullet-proof vest and get ready to “swallow some bullets,” according to information presented in court.
At the parking lot, the two groups (about eight people in all) shouted and swore at each other before one of Weng’s group hit Wu in the head with a wrench.
Weng then opened fire, squeezing off up to four shots with a .45 calibre handgun, hitting Wu in the shoulder and Zhang in the groin.
It would take 13 years for Weng to be arrested for the shooting.
He fled to Taiwan (a country that doesn’t have an extradition agreement with Canada), and law enforcement didn’t catch up with him until 2018, when he was arrested in South Korea and sent back to Canada to face charges.
During his 13 years back in Taiwan, Weng had “lived openly,” married, had two children and worked at a profession he was “relatively successful in,” according to a 2019 sentencing ruling in the case.
Now, he is in prison in Canada.
He was convicted in August 2019 and handed a life sentence with no chance of parole for 12 years for the second-degree murder and a nine-year concurrent sentence for the attempted murder.
Attempted murder conviction overturned
Weng, who is now 45 years old, went on to appeal his conviction, however, arguing the trial judge hadn’t properly established he had actually intended to kill Zhang and Wu.
A B.C. Court of Appeal decision last week left him with a partial victory.
The court unanimously rejected his argument in relation to the murder conviction, concluding the trial judge had properly considered all the relevant evidence before ruling Weng’s state of mind when he pulled the trigger made him guilty of murder in Zhang’s death.
But the appeals court overturned the attempted murder conviction, concluding the trial judge’s factual findings didn’t prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Weng had intended to kill Wu.
For example, the trial judge had found Weng hadn’t been aiming carefully and didn’t shoot Wu again when he had the chance.
The court quashed the attempted murder conviction and replaced it with a conviction for aggravated assault.
Whether that will make any difference to Weng’s sentence is unclear since the two sentences are running at the same time.
“The process for bringing the matter back to court has not been determined at this stage. It is not automatic,” B.C. Prosecution Service spokesperson Dan McLaughlin told the NOW.
The NOW has reached out to Weng’s lawyer, Ian Donaldson, but has not heard back.