The death of Yue Jiang is still having an impact, two and a half years after the Arizona State University student from China was killed in a random act of road rage.
"The young innocent life was taken away in a very inhumane and brutal way for no reason at all," said Bowei Zhu, a friend of Jiang.
On Monday, friends and family gathered near the scene of the crime, off of Broadway Road and McClintock Drive in Tempe to express their concerns that justice is not being served.
According to Tempe police, Holly Davis of Mesa rear-ended Jiang's vehicle in January 2016, then got out and shot the young woman, whose boyfriend was sitting next to her.
Davis was arrested and charged with first-degree murder.
A few months ago, prosecutors and Davis' attorney agreed to a plea deal of second-degree murder, that would result in a mandatory 25-year prison sentence.
Jiang's family is not happy about it.
"The plea agreement from the County Attorney's Office demeans my cousin's life and makes Davis' meaningless life more important," said Katherine Xu, the victim's cousin.
Jiang's family claims they were never notified of the plea deal and only learned about it through the news media.
But a spokeswoman for the Maricopa County Attorney's Office said the family was contacted and their concerns were taken into account.
The family is now asking the judge in the case to reject the plea deal.
"Such a decision and the approval of the pending plea bargain cannot be, and is not reasonable, and not fair," said Xu. "We the Jiang family and our 10,000 supporters do not believe this is acceptable."
Family members are planning to express their concerns to the judge Tuesday morning.
A sentencing hearing has been scheduled for this Friday.
The Maricopa County Attorney's Office released this statement:
“Losing a loved one to violence is tragic, let alone losing them in a foreign country. Couple tragedy with the unfamiliarity of a foreign criminal justice system and confusion and frustration is not unexpected. The Maricopa County Attorney’s Office has complied with our state constitution’s Victims’ Bill of Rights on behalf of the family of Yue Jiang and, consistent with their request to be heard by the Court in advance of any sentencing as is their right, helped in setting tomorrow’s hearing.
"To repeat what the Maricopa County Attorney shared after this tragic event in 2016 with local Chinese Community leaders and Chinese students at ASU, along with Chinese government officials who were present at the ASU meeting, there was no indication that either Yue Jiang or the Chinese student who was a victim of an assault on a light rail car near the same time as the loss of Ms. Jiang, were targeted due their Chinese ethnicity."
"The pursuit of justice for victims of crime necessarily requires prosecutors to take into account the views and concerns of victims, as well as the practical realities of the facts and circumstances of any given case. In this case, the defendant will be sentenced to the maximum possible term of 25 years for 2nd degree murder without possibility of early release. This resolution has been explained to the family of Ms. Jiang. Differences in criminal justice systems and cultural and language challenges are matters we continue to address as best we can and will not impede our commitment to doing all we can to help Ms. Jiang’s family as we head to sentencing in this case.”
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