China gives villager death sentence over massacre of 19

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BEIJING (AP) — A court in southwest China said Friday it has sentenced to death a man who killed 19 people, including his parents and several other relatives, in a bloody rampage with a pickaxe.

The Qujing City Intermediate People's Court in Yunnan province said Yang Qingpei, a 27-year-old laborer from Yema village, pleaded guilty and would not appeal the sentence.

The court found that Yang killed his parents with a pickaxe last September after they scolded him for racking up gambling debts in the provincial capital. It said he knifed 17 other people to death, including relatives and neighbors, in an attempt to cover his tracks.

Chinese media have widely covered the case, one of the bloodiest mass killings in recent years in a country where access to guns is extremely limited.

In announcing the death sentence, the court said Yang had confessed and showed a "good attitude" during the criminal proceedings, but that did not outweigh the "vile circumstances and particularly cruel method of killing."

Yang offered an apology to the relatives of the dead during his trial on July 19. The youngest victim was 3 and the oldest 72.

Aside from the gruesome nature of the killings, Yang's case attracted national attention in part because villagers who discovered the crime scene initially suspected a terrorist attack, and videos that circulated on social media at the time showed armed police patrolling the village before they were censored.

Police quickly refuted any terror link and apprehended Yang within a day.

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