(CNN) — A Beijing man who snatched a baby from a pram and hurled it to its death in an argument over a parking space was Wednesday sentenced to death by a Beijing court, according to court documents.
Han Lei, 39, was charged with intentional homicide over the death of the two-year-old girl who died in hospital from brain damage 50 hours after being dashed to the pavement in the Daxing District of Beijing on July 23.
The court sentenced his friend Li Ming, who helped Han escape after the incident, to five years’ jail.
The Beijing No.1 Intermediate People’s Court heard how Han and Li decided to drive to a karaoke bar after a dinner with several other people. Unable to find a parking space, they attempted to park at a bus stop where a woman, also surnamed Li, was waiting with the 2-year, 10-month-old baby who was named as Sun in court documents.
An altercation began when Han accused the mother of blocking the car’s path with the pushchair. The court heard how Han hit the mother and then proceeded to hurl the baby out of its pram.
The court rejected his defense that he had been intoxicated at the time of the attack, saying that his mental condition had been “stable” despite earlier drinking at dinner. Prosecutors recommended that Han, who committed the crime within a year of being released from prison, be given the death sentence.
“I smacked her in the face. She hit back, too. People started to gather around us. I just wanted to smash the trolley,” Han reportedly said in a statement to police.
The girl’s mother told police that Han had earlier threatened to kill the child and had acted before she was able to take measures to protect her.
Han fled the scene with Li Ming, who was charged with harboring a criminal, but was arrested by police the next day. Li turned himself in to police on July 25.
Relatives of the child asked for a total of 2.73 million yuan ($443,513) in civil compensation during the court hearing, according to state-run Xinhua.
The case drew a strong response on Chinese social media site Weibo where posters mostly applauded the death sentence: “He deserves to be shot 100 times,” said poster Xiongwoxi while another, named as Wujiayounvchuzhangcheng, said the death sentence was not strong enough. “Dying once is leniency,” he said.
Despite this, there were some calls to end capital punishment in China.
“Although he deserves the death, shouldn’t we give him another chance? Do we must have people die one after another?” said poster Linxidaxuesonglianli.
–By Peter Shadbolt, CNN