Andrew L. Urban.
26 June, 2020: With the backdrop of the appeal against his conviction, (started 22 June, 2020), a proposition emerges that it wasn’t Robert Xie who killed five members of the Lin family in 2009, but at least two killers with two weapons.The claim is the result of a detailed examination of the autopsy reports, by a group of interested Chinese-Australians, including Dr Roland Zhang, a former neurosurgeon.
In a series of comments in response to our article, Robert Xie – an evidence free conviction, Dr Peter Young and Dr Roland Zhang have identified elements that contradict the prosecution’s circumstantial case.
The key elements include:
Killers and murder weapons
The forensic report on the murdered Lily Lin contains “evidence strongly suggestive of asphyxial injury, including abrasions on the left side of the neck, extensive soft tissue haemorrhage within the neck and fracture of the hyoid bone. These are consistent with neck compression. This tells us that the neck injury cannot be caused by a hammer like object, but a short metal bar pressing on Lily’s neck.”
There are more than 10 cuts or lacerations on Lily’s face and scalp, strongly suggesting these injuries were not caused by a hammer like object. As Graham Turnbull SC pointed out, they could have been caused by a screw driver like object.
Combined with this is evidence of transferred material on the temporal bone, nasal bone and tissue displaced to the posterior pharynx and hyoid bone fracture – consistent with neck compression. “It is almost certain that a hammer cannot cause such injuries and the most likely weapon is a short metal bar-like object with one end bound with cloth to make it easier to hold”- or a chisel. “Only with this kind of weapon can the fractured bone or tissue be moved away by more than 10 cms,” as was the case according to the autopsy.
“That’s why we think at least two killers, probably three, murdered the Lin family.”
Missing DNA is evidence
Dr Peter Young writes that Xie was convicted as the sole murderer, murdering five members of the Lin family: first Min Lin and his wife Lily in their main bedroom, then Lily’s sister, Irene, in the second bedroom, and lastly young Henry and his brother Terry in their bedroom. But of about 70 blood samples collected from the boys’ bedroom all failed to identify trace DNA matching Irene.
“The defence barrister pointed out in court that this is evidence that Irene and the two brothers were killed by different persons, that a sole murderer allegation was wrong. The prosecutor‘s answer was that this can be explained by the sample collectors failing to collect samples from every inch of the murder scene! This is terribly wrong, as DNA labs nowadays apply technology like PCR, which would identify even an extremely tiny trace amount of DNA, as small as a drop of blood in the Pacific Ocean. And 70 samples collected by trained crime scene technicians, all failed to find Irene’s DNA, is overwhelming evidence against the allegation.”
The prosecution’s case was that Xie murdered all five sometime after 2m, after he closed his computer, went to bed, but then went over to the Lin home. His wife had testified that he did not get up during the night.
According to the autopsy documents, “one or two of the victims had partially undigested food in their stomach with distended bladders. There are two possible times when the bladder could be distended: one is before going to bed and one is early morning. With undigested food in the stomach, most likely the murders could have happened around four hours after meal. Normal content in the stomach will be empty 3-4 hours after a meal, but also could be after 8 hours, according to some researchers,” says Dr Zhang.
Dr Zhang has also noted that “If people knew the kids (Henry & Terry) were wearing day time clothes with a $50 note in one of the pants pockets, people would think the murder has high likely to have happened before midnight.”
Dr Zhang first heard about the brutal murders from news reports, and became actively interested when Robert Xie was charged with the murders. “I didn’t expect that,” he says, and believes Xie is innocent. Dr Zhang, along with Dr Peter Yong and others, began to undertake research – notably through the autopsy reports – and have been involved in an extensive series of discussions on Australian-Chinese forums. Dr Zhang worked as a neurosurgeon at a Shanghai teaching hospital until 1994, when he migrated to New Zealand before moving to Australia in 1999, where he works as a computer programmer. He is attending the appeal hearings in the Supreme Court as an observer.