|Police investigates a SUV stolen by a suspect, who murdered a two-month-old infant in the car in Changchun of Northeast China's Jilin province in this file photo taken on March 5, 2013. Zhou Xijun was sentenced to death by Intermediate People's Court in Changchun on Monday. (Photo / Xinhua)|
A thief who killed a baby after stealing a SUV in Northeast China in March was sentenced to death, a court announced on Monday.
The Intermediate People's Court in Changchun, capital of Jilin province, gave the sentence to Zhou Xijun, 48, and ordered him to pay 50,000 yuan ($8,710) in fines.
He was also made to pay around 17,000 yuan in compensation to the victim's family.
Zhou said he would appeal to a higher court, the China News Service reported.
According to the court, at about 7 am on March 2, Zhou, a native of Gongzhuling, who was about to attend a job interview, noticed that a grocery store owner parked a silver-gray Toyota RAV4 in front of the store.
At around the same time two days later, Zhou found the SUV was in the same place. He also noticed that there was a 2-month-old baby in the car.
The vehicle was unlocked and the engine was still on, so Zhou decided to steal the vehicle and drive toward Huaide.
Later, Zhou took off the car plates and removed a red cloth from a wheel.
The baby cried during the drive and Zhou stopped the car and strangled the baby until the baby became unconscious, the court said.
When the baby cried again, Zhou used the red cloth to strangle the baby to death.
At around 8:20 am, Zhou buried the baby in snow and dumped a woman's bag and the baby's clothes in a ditch.
At 9 am, Zhou abandoned the SUV at a farm in Yingchengzi and left. At noon, Zhou reburied the baby's body.
The missing baby attracted widespread attention online as more than 8,000 police officers in Changchun and thousands of taxis and private car owners took part in a citywide search.
Zhou gave himself up to the police the next day and the body of the baby was recovered on May 5.
Thousands of residents later gathered in a square of the city to mourn the baby's death.
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