Man asked flatmates if meat cleaver can kill someone before ‘murdering ex-wife’

Flatmates of a man accused of killing his ex-wife say he asked them if a meat cleaver would be a good murder weapon.

Manchao Li, 65, denies stabbing Zhimin Yang on a street in Auckland, New Zealand on the morning of July 29 last year.

Ms Yang, a university professor, was walking to the bus she caught to work when she was tackled to the ground and stabbed with a hunting knife 12 times.

She and her former husband had been embroiled in a property dispute for some time.

Li's former flatmates, with whom he lived for years before the stabbing, claim he'd been obsessed with punishing his wife through violent means.

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"From almost day one, he was fixated with the fact that his ex-wife had done the dirty and he was somehow, one day going to get even with her," Garrick Protheroe told Auckland's High Court.

"He showed me a hunting knife and he showed me a meat cleaver. The interesting thing with the meat cleaver was that he asked if this would be enough to kill somebody with."

Theresa Bushell, another flatmate, says he even detailed what he planned to do with the weapon — and it seemed to involve mutilating his intended victim.

"He put his hand on the kitchen bench and the next thing he goes 'chop, chop', he said – 'and then she won't be able to steal from anyone else'."

Ms Yang's son previously told the court his mum had moved from China to New Zealand hoping for a better life, but her marriage had fallen apart and she felt threatened.

She had filed several protection orders against Li dating back to 2005, and had been forced to flee and live in a safe house after he threatened to kill her.

Her son said she carried pepper spray and personal alarms with her, and had intentionally bought a home with lcoked gates and security cameras out of fear for her life.

Li denies the charge of murder as well as the accusation he breached a protection order.

The trial is set to continue for three weeks.

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