Posted on: November 28, 2022, 04:39h. 

Last updated on: November 28, 2022, 05:10h.

Last week, a British Columbia gambler sentenced to life in 2009 for the murder of a woman working as an illegal loan shark saw his sentence commuted.

Rong Lilly Li
Rong Lilly Li, bottom left, was a loan shark and also a registered employee at the River Rock Casino, main image, in Richmond. (Image: Richmond RCMP/Great Canadian Gaming)

A jury of the BC Supreme Court in Vancouver took two days of deliberations to reduce Chu Ming Feng’s sentence by three years. That means he will be eligible for parole in 2028.

The jury had been asked to consider Feng’s good behavior since his incarceration and his expressions of remorse. But it was his willingness to admit full responsibility for the first time for the killing of Rong Lilly Li, 41, a single mother, on May 26, 2006, that swayed the jury toward leniency.

Murdered for $2,500

Feng and an accomplice, Guo Wei Liang, killed Li after luring her into a hired minivan from the front entrance of the River Rock Casino in Richmond, Greater Vancouver.

The pair believed she would be carrying up to C$300,000 (US$226,000) in her purse. Instead, they found just C$500 (US$376) in cash and C$2,000 (US$1,500) in casino chips.

Li, who was a low-level River Rock employee in addition to working for a local loan-sharking gang, was strangled to death with Guo’s belt shortly afterwards.

Feng pulled the belt with all his strength as Li begged for her life, as lawyers for the Canadian government reminded jurors last week. The duo buried her body a day later at nearby Jericho Beach.

At his trial 13 years ago, and at his 2011 appeal, Feng blamed his accomplice for coercing him into committing the crime. He claimed that Guo had given him a bottle of water in the van and said he believed something in the water made him act out of character.

At his trial, prosecutors branded his “magic murder water theory” as “absurd.”

Guo didn’t hang around to tell his side of the story. He disappeared after the murder and it’s unclear whether he is still alive.

‘Just a Lie’

Last week in court, Feng broke down in tears, and admitted the intoxicating water story was “just a lie.”

He told the jury he had become addicted to gambling while working with Guo at a fish market after moving to Canada from Guangdong, China. He added that he hoped to earn a C$150,000 cut of the expected spoils and admitted it was likely Li would be killed.

I want to say sorry to the victim. Secondly, I want to say sorry to her daughter, because I killed her mom,” Feng told the court, as reported by business news site “She’s without her mom, growing up. She might hate me. I cannot stop her from hating me. But if I can, I would ask for [her to] forgive me.”

Later, jurors heard a victim-impact statement from Li’s daughter, Ahi Yan Chen, who was a teenager when her mother was murdered.

“Mr. Feng’s actions have caused me so much pain,” Chen wrote. “He took the most important person from me. This man was sentenced by a judge for the murder of my mom, and I do not believe that he should be able to apply for parole until he has served his sentence that was imposed on him by the courts.”