Deaths a 'final, tragic' act
A man has today been acquitted of two counts of murder, after two men died of stab wounds at an Auckland mansion in 2011.
However, he was found guilty of the manslaughter of one of the victims when the jury returned their verdicts this afternoon.
The High Court at Auckland heard during the trial the pair were stabbed to death with a hunting knife after they tried to evict a man from the property at the centre of a bitter marital dispute.
A jury took more than a day to find Cheng Qi "Chris" Wang, 52, not guilty of the murder of Zhuo "Michael" Wu, 44, but guilty of the manslaughter of Yishan "Tom" Zhong, 53, at Wang's $2 million Mt Albert home on January 14, 2011.
It can now be revealed it was the third time the trial had run.
The first one in February 2012 was aborted after jurors fell ill and the second trial seven months later the jury could not agree on a verdict.
Zhong was found lying dead in the driveway of the house with 23 stab wounds.
Wu, with three stab wounds, was found inside the house, collapsed at the base of the stairs.
He died a short time later.
Wang met police at the front door in blood-soaked pyjamas.
Crown prosecutor Kevin Glubb said the deaths were the "final, tragic" act in a long-running dispute between Wang and his former wife, Michelle Chen, over residential properties they owned together.
In 2010, two years after they had separated, Chen moved back to China.
To help her gain some control over the residential properties she enlisted the help of Wu, private investigator Phil Jones and property lawyer David Snedden.
She said she was not receiving income from the properties and she wanted Wang out of one of the houses she believed he was living in.
Wu and Zhong had known Wang for some time. Both had gone into business with him, disputes had arisen and the relationships had soured.
Earlier attempts to engage Wang had been unsuccessful and "heated".
Wu and Zhong were advised not to attempt to evict Wang and Jones refused to join them.
He said if the two men had to go to the house, they should take police with them.
On the morning of January 14, Wu went to the Avondale police station to ask for help enforcing trespass notices.
Glubb said the person at the watch-house told Wu she couldn't allocate staff to the task, but Wu should call 111 on the way to the house if he needed help.
At the Mt Albert house Wu and Zhong made their way up the stairs where they encountered a young woman.
She told Wang he had visitors and, at his instructions, went to wait on the balcony.
The crown alleged that on seeing the two men Wang pulled a hunting knife from his bedside table and used violence that was "totally unnecessary, despite their approach, despite their struggle".
Glubb said Wang was relatively unscathed, showing that "most of the aggression came from him".
But the jury rejected that version of events.
Wang's lawyer, Tom Sutcliffe, told the jury his client was defending himself against two men who were aggrieved with him over business dealings.
"Chris Wang believed he was going to die."
Wang's position was that the wounds on Zhong were made by the other deceased, Wu, during the violent struggle with the knives.
Wang will be sentenced next month.