Hostess on trial for killing roommate in Geylang apartment
They were colleagues at a karaoke lounge and compatriots who shared a room in a private apartment in Geylang.
Then one of the hostesses allegedly slashed and stabbed the other to death in their flat in February 2013.
Ms Zhao Jinhua, 26, a Chinese national, was found dead with over 90 injuries - most of them bruises and scratches - but with three wounds so serious they could have caused death on their own.
Yesterday, her roommate Jiang Yumei, 32, a fellow Chinese national, appeared in the Supreme Court and claimed trial to one count of culpable homicide not amounting to murder.
Jiang was initially facing a murder charge, but the prosecution amended the charge before the trial started.
Deputy Public Prosecutor (DPP) Mohamed Faizal said in the prosecution's opening statement that Jiang attacked Ms Zhao in their Lorong 9 Geylang flat sometime between 11pm on Feb 11, 2013, and 10am the next day.
Jiang is said to have repeatedly slashed Ms Zhao's head, face, neck and arms with a cleaver until she collapsed onto the ground and became motionless.
Even after Ms Zhao was on the ground, Jiang continued her assault, DPP Faizal said.
He also said that Jiang, at some point, also used a knife to stab Ms Zhao at least three times.
After the assault, Jiang allegedly attempted to clean up the place before meeting her friend, Mr Jimmy Ho, whom she confided in about what had happened.
Mr Ho then took Jiang to Bukit Merah Neighbourhood Police Centre, where she made a police report.
Yesterday, Health Sciences Authority's senior consultant forensic pathologist Paul Chui took the stand and said he found at least 92 injuries on Ms Zhao during the autopsy.
Three injuries were serious enough on their own to have killed her.
One was a gash on the back of Ms Zhao's neck that damaged the membrane around the spinal cord and left it swollen.
He said that such a deep injury could have caused spinal shock, a condition in which the nerves stop functioning, and paralysis of the limbs and lower body.
Ms Zhao died from the multiple injuries, he said.
Defence counsel Leo Cheng Suan said his client was asleep when Ms Zhao, allegedly armed with a knife, sat on her and grabbed her throat.
Jiang then flipped her roommate off her back, grabbed the knife and hacked Ms Zhao, he said.
But Dr Chui pointed out that there was a lack of bloodstains on the bed and the nearby wall to corroborate Jiang's version of events.
"You need to explain where the blood is," he said.
If convicted, Jiang faces life imprisonment or up to 20 years' jail and a fine. The trial continues today.
By the numbers
Number of injuries inflicted by Chinese national Jiang Yumei on her roommate, Ms Zhao Jinhua
Three injuries so severe each could have caused death
There were at least 92 injuries found on Ms Zhao Jinhua's (right) body, said Health Sciences Authority's senior consultant forensic pathologist Paul Chui.
Fourteen wounds reached the bone and three injuries were so severe they could have caused death on their own, he said.
The three severe injuries were:
- Gash across her face that severed a facial artery
- Gashes on the back of her head, one of which was from ear to ear and shaved off part of her skull
- Huge gash on her neck that had multiple, overlapping wounds and damaged the membrane around the spinal cord Her other injuries included:
- Gashes on her left shoulder and upper arm
- Long gash at the back of her right hand down to the fingers
- Cuts on the back of her hands and on her palms
- Bruises and scratches all over her body