Cultural Differences Overwhelm Jury (Continued)

Image by Raskhan Kaderi from Pixa

This is the second half of the story. The first half is here.

Let me tell this story from the very beginning. The Tang family are Cantonese and they run a successful furniture business. Let’s call the boy little Tang. His mother and his father were both engaged in the furniture business, but his father and mother fought all the time. His mother had this compulsive disorder that she wanted to control everybody around her, especially her husband and her son. Every bit of petty cash had to be reported to her and every little fault was pointed out. It got so bad that when Tang was in primary school, his father ran away. Not so far away since he still had to take care of the family business. So his father lived in the same town with his mistress and Little Tang lived with his mother, who monitored every little move of his son.

The parents had big dreams for their son. They wanted him to go abroad to attend college, and to expand their business to new territories. Little Tang didn’t like to study and his mother had to discipline him constantly, to the point that he was not allowed to have more than an hour of cell phone time each day, and not allowed to hang out with friends his mother didn’t approve of.

When Little Tang got a girlfriend in high school, his mother did her best to separate them. Eventually at the time of graduation, he was packed up and sent to Canada to attend college. Little Tang didn’t like to study much and wanted to go home, but his parents insisted that he should get his bachelor degree. To ensure that Little Tang concentrated on his study, his mother controlled his credit card usage and didn’t allow him to spend money on entertainment. They argued every day. Little Tang was so depressed that he couldn’t study at all.

When he started to date a fellow student, he got an idea. He found creative ways to ask his parents for money. He told them that he wanted to buy a new car in order to commute to school. However he didn’t use the money his parents sent over to buy cars, but instead he used the money on himself and his girlfriend. He also told his parents that he wanted to buy an apartment since the real estate market was hot and he could sell the apartment with a profit at the time of graduation. His parents wired him the money, but he didn’t buy an apartment at all. He just used the money on something else.

Soon, his parents told him that they would come to Canada to visit him, which sent him into a panic. His parents would find out that he was not studying much and he was dating another forbidden girlfriend. When his parents arrived, he told them that the newly bought apartment was undergoing renovation. And he checked his parents into a local hotel with adjacent rooms, one for his mother and one for his father.

The next morning, his mother asked him to come to the hotel. She told him that she had found his rental car receipt, which meant that he didn’t use the money they sent over to buy a car. With such an evidence in hand, she suspected that the new apartment he bought was also non-existent. So she insisted on going to see the apartment for herself. Tang was in panic. He hit his mother on the head, after which he suffocated her. Then he stuffed her body in a suitcase, cleaned up the room, and dumped the suitcase. His father slept in the next room and didn’t know a thing.

Three weeks later, a jogger found a suitcase near the beach somewhere and reported it to the police. The clothes, shoes and other evidence all pointed to Little Tang’s mother, who was reported missing by the father and the son three weeks prior.

There were a couple of people who could speak Cantonese on the police force. One of them pretended to be the one who found the suitcase. She called Little Tang and told him that she found a suitcase with a body in it, which looked like his mother’s. She needed ten thousand dollars to help him dispose of it. If he didn’t pay, she would report it to the police. Little Tang told her that he would get the money for her. It was a little ruse the government performed to gather evidence and to get Little Tang to admit to the murder.

Soon afterwards, Little Tang was arrested. He admitted to everything and said he wanted to kill his father too, but he had not had the opportunity yet. The government thought they had a water-tight case for murder and plenty of evidence for a quick conviction, but the court proceedings turned out to be chaotic. The father testified, through interpreters, that he and his son suffered psychological and emotional torture for years and years. His father even praised the son to help the family get rid of a bad wife and bad mother. The jury was totally astonished at Little Tang’s remorseless depravity and his father’s wicked assertions. Two members of the jury were so emotionally distressed and mentally confounded that they asked to be excused from their duty.

Some members even think the father and the son were mad and deranged, who should get psychiatric care. Their behaviors were just not normal. Even if a government appointed psychiatrist testified that the son was mentally competent to stand trial, some jury members were not totally convinced.

In addition, Little Tang’s father completely disregarded his son’s intention to kill him. He passionately defended his son and criticized the court for trying to punish his “little hero”, who upheld the family value by killing a bad wife and bad mother who tormented the family for decades. His preaching of this outlandish family value completely baffled and unsettled the judge and the jury. After two members of jury quit, the third member claimed that he couldn’t bear the emotional strain and couldn’t judge the case with a clear mind. It seemed that the case was in tatters. The jury had to be dismissed and a new jury had to be assembled if the third member quit.

At this juncture, the father hired the most prominent lawyer in Canada, who is an expert in defending against the government way of “fishing evidence” from Little Tang. And for five days, the jury couldn’t decide if this was a premeditated case or an impulsive killing. Eventually, Little Tang was convicted of 2nd degree murder.

It is a real story and you can read the news here. Somehow I can’t help feeling sorry for the mother. She’s probably a control freak and an emotional manipulator as was alleged by her husband and her son, but still she had served them for decades, only to be hated by both. Her body was murdered by her son, her characters were smeared, her faults were laid bare for the world to condemn. And I suspect that her erratic behaviors were probably due to a childhood trauma or even a narcissistic upbringing. If she had had psychological help, things probably would have been very different…

19 thoughts on “Cultural Differences Overwhelm Jury (Continued)

  1. You’re absolutely right that cultural differences are a significant part of this. And while I may not understand everything about a culture, there are some things that stand out that wouldn’t be acceptable in any culture, such as financial abuse, or murder. This reminds of this news story I read about an Asian student who ran away from home after her SATs. Also, living in Silicon Valley, it’s so competitive, and there’s a high suicide rate among the Asian communities. It’s so tragic 😦

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I can’t agree more. The mental health issues are prevalent in Asian immigrant communities even though people try to pretend that mental issues don’t exist. Not only suicide rate, but also family conflicts, murder, emotional abuses are much higher. However it is something nobody wants to talk about as if it doesn’t exist.

      Liked by 1 person

        1. I have actually seen a number of posts on social media about this. Have you read Messy Roots by Laura Gao too? It’s a wonderful graphic novel about her life growing up Asian American


  2. As crazy as this case sounds and as crazy as I sound as well, for some reason I am not surprised at all of this. I have heard too many stories of parents pushing their kids to be as successful as possible. Unfortunately, the end is rarely happy.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Me too. I have the same reaction. I am not too surprised by it. It happened so often in immigrant families that I am not surprised at all. I recently heard a story that an abused son took his own life, jumping from a bridge over Hudson River. Then the narcissistic parents adopted a boy. Can you believe that? it should not be allowed since they are narcissistic parents who will only harm children despite the fact that they make good money from their business.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, the son was abused for years, emotionally and financially. The mother was a little mad and the father was mostly absent. yes, I suspect that the mother was somehow traumatized when she was young, but nobody thinks that is relevant information for the case.


    1. Yes, among the murdered women, most of them are killed by people they are intimate with. Not surprising. Also women are more likely to be stressed out or to suffer health issues in a family due to the double shift and everything else.

      Liked by 1 person

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