Man pleads guilty to killing five relatives with meat cleaver

Nearly two years after the murders of four children and their mother, relative Mingdong Chen, 27, has admitted to the killings and is set to serve a sentence of 125 years to life in prison.

Chen pleaded guilty to three counts of second-degree murder and two counts of first-degree manslaughter in front of Brooklyn Supreme Court Justice Vincent Del Giudice on Wednesday, October 7. He had been questioned by detectives in Mandarin when confessing to killing his victims.

The murder occurred inside 870 57th Street in Sunset Park on Saturday, October 26, 2013. At the time of the crime, Chen had been living with the family for two weeks. While her husband — Chen’s cousin — was at work, 37-year-old Qia Zhen Li called her mother-in-law, who lived in China, to inform her that he was threatening her and the children with a knife in hand. When she heard the children crying in the background, the mother-law responded by calling relatives in Brooklyn and alerting them to the situation.

When police arrived, they found Chen being held down by relatives, with bloodstains on his clothes and hands. As a result of several stab wounds to the neck and head made with a meat cleaver, Li and her children Linda Zhuo, 9; Amy Zhuo, 7; Kevin Zhuo, 5; and William Zhuo, 1; were pronounced dead upon arrival at Lutheran Medical Center.

“Today’s outcome guarantees that this dangerous defendant will never be on the streets again,” said Brooklyn District Attorney Ken Thompson in a statement. “It also brings some peace to a devastated family and spares them from reliving this horrific tragedy at trial.”

The judge has set sentencing for Tuesday, October 20. According to Thompson, Chen will be sentenced to three terms of 25 years to life in prison for the murder counts and two terms of 25 years on the manslaughter counts, all running consecutively, for a sentence of 125 years to life in prison. Chen waived his right to appeal as part of the plea.


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