PHOENIX (AP/KSAZ) - The family of a Chinese college student came to Arizona to tearfully plead for harsh punishment against the woman who shot the 19-year-old to death after a minor car crash, but a judge honored a plea agreement Friday to send her to prison for 25 years.
Holly Davis, 34, was initially charged with first-degree murder for killing Yue Jiang after hitting her car in suburban Phoenix in 2016 but pleaded guilty to second-degree murder under a deal with prosecutors. Jiang's family traveled from China this week to protest the plea agreement, saying it demeaned the young woman's life.
Davis rear-ended a car Jiang, a college sophomore, was driving. A passenger in Jiang's car got out to inspect the damage when he saw Davis point a gun at him. Davis then walked up to Jiang and shot her several times, authorities said. Davis fled but was later caught. She denied the shooting at first but told authorities that if she had done it, it was because she was depressed and wanted police to kill her, prosecutors said.
Jiang's family said the plea deal placed more value on Davis' life than on Jiang's and urged the judge to reject it. But he accepted it this week.
"As a family, we cannot, we cannot understand why 2nd Degree, 25 years," said Jiang's cousin, Katherine Xu. "For us, the monster deserves death."
Xu wept in the courtroom repeatedly, calling Davis a monster. She said Jiang was a hard worker who made her family proud when she got scholarships to study at Arizona State University.
"All I want to say is no matter how much you dress yourself up like a human, the inhumane acts you did with Yue's life will not disappear," Xu said.
Davis also cried and sought forgiveness from Jiang's family.
"No words can express how sorry I am," Davis said. "If I could bring her back, I would. If I could take her place, I would."
Her attorney said Davis had experienced a lifetime of tragedy and abuse and had been homeless and addicted to drugs.
"Her life is a prime example of what drugs do," Alan Tavassoli said.
"I don't find you a monster, but what you did was monstrous. It was senseless, and it was cruel," Judge Warren Granville said Friday.
The Associated Press (AP) contributed to this report.