A man accused of stabbing his wife’s lover to death was convicted of first-degree murder in Irvine, California on Thursday.
Hongli Sun, an engineer, killed Dr. Xuan Liu, a dentist, on July 28, 2015 for having an affair with his estranged wife, Cynthia Chen.
Sun and Chen first divorced in November 2014 after the latter engaged in a relationship with Liu. She moved to China for several months, leaving their child to Sun’s care.
Upon Chen’s return, the couple reconciled and remarried in January 2015. However, Sun remained suspicious that his wife and Liu were still seeing each other.
On the day of the attack, Sun drove to Liu’s office to see if Chen was there. He found a letter on the door — in his wife’s handwriting — saying that they had gone to lunch.
When they arrived, Sun drove his Mercedes-Benz SUV toward Liu, who was knocked down before trying to run away. Sun managed to chase the 54-year-old and stabbed him 17 times, which led to his death.
Senior Deputy District Attorney Mark Birney told jurors that Sun planned to murder Liu. He argued that his motive emerged out of “anger, jealousy and ultimately desire for revenge.”
Defense Attorney John Barnett, on the other hand, argued that his client had no plans to kill Liu. He claimed that Sun only “snapped” under the pressure of Chen’s infidelity.
“Forgiveness repaid by betrayal,” Barnett said, according to MyNewsLA. “That forgiveness begat betrayal and further forgiveness begat further betrayal. After being stretched over time… he finally snapped and he killed Dr. Liu.”
Sun learned that Liu had “drugged,” “debased” and “seduced” his wife, according to Barnett. He also found out that the dentist photographed her while having sex and gave her a sexually transmitted disease, which he believes had led to her cancer, according to the Orange County Register.
Barnett argued that Sun carried the knife because Liu’s own estranged wife, Junli Zha, was having an affair with a “gangster” and was using Liu and Chen’s explicit photos as leverage for her own divorce.
Sun, who faces 26 years to life in prison, will return to court on Oct. 30. Aside from killing Liu, the 43-year-old was also convicted of felony assault for injuring someone who tried to intervene in the attack.
Feature Images via Orange County Sheriff’s Department (left) and DMV (right)