Cyanide-laced bubble tea murder brings down capital punishment

By Giang Chinh, Nguyen Ngoan    July 17, 2020 | 07:14 am PT
Cyanide-laced bubble tea murder brings down capital punishment
Lai Thi Kieu Trang stands trial at the court in Thai Binh Province, northern Vietnam, where she received death for murder, July 17 2020. Photo by VnExpress/Nguyen Ngoan.
A court in Thai Binh Province on Friday sentenced a local woman to death for murdering a nurse with cyanide-laced bubble tea meant for a colleague of the victim.

Lai Thi Kieu Trang, 26, was charged with ‘murder’ in the shocking incident that made headlines and garnered public attention for behavior the court described as ‘cruel and vile.’

The victim, Nguyen Thi Hanh, 29, was a nurse at Thai Binh Lung Hospital in the northern province.

According to the indictment, Trang and the husband of her cousin, identified as Dam Hai Yen, had been involved in a love affair since January 2019, though the man wanted to stop in October the same year.

Trang subsequently outlined a plan to kill her cousin due to jealousy. Knowing that cyanide, classified a poison, was not allowed to be traded publicly, she ordered 1 liter online, storing it at home.

On December 2, 2019 she poured just enough cyanide into four of six cups of bubble tea.

Trang had the tea delivered to the hospital where her cousin worked disguised as thank-you gifts from patients. Bubble tea is a popular drink in Vietnam, especially among the youth.

Since Yen was not present at the time, her colleguage received the tea and put the cups in a fridge. The next morning, Hanh drank one of the four poisoned cups and died instantly. Two of her colleagues followed suit, luckily choosing the unlaced cups.

Trang was arrested on December 30 after police exhumed Hanh's remains for an autopsy into the ununsual death.

The court also asked Trang to pay compensation worth VND269 million ($11,700) to the victim's family and pay a monthly sum of VND2 million to help raise her three children.

Exposure to certain forms of cyanide at certain concentrations could be fatal within minutes, according to doctors.

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