Whenever they got ripped off in their marijuana growing business, or if the “male pressure” of life got to him, Yanqun Tan testified Thursday, her boyfriend took it out on her.
He strung her up in chains, she said. He forced her to have sex. He “banished” her to the backyard to sleep with the dogs. And when he watched the fights on TV and the action got him going, she said, he’d punch her in the face.
Tan’s testimony built toward the ultimate moment in her self-defense case – when she beat Rufi Fang to death with a hydroponic ballast used by indoor pot growers to regulate the wattage to their lighting systems, before wrapping his head in a plastic bag and cinching it shut with duct tape.
She won’t get to the end of her story until next week. But on Thursday, a Sacramento Superior Court jury sat in awe while two Cantonese interpreters relayed her description of her new life with Fang in America, about how it started poorly in Las Vegas and how it concluded in Sacramento with him dead and her in jail charged with his murder.
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Tan, who is now 55, testified she and Fang, who was 55 when she killed him Oct. 20, 2012, in their Emerald Creek Court rental in Lemon Hill, had been married to different spouses and were raising separate families in China when they began their relationship.
“It was sexual contact – secretive,” she said.
In 2005, they split from their families and moved to America. “Because I loved him,” Tan said, under questioning from her lawyer, Pete Harned, who asked about their decision to immigrate. “And also because we no longer wanted to be secretive.”
They obtained tourist visas to visit Las Vegas, and they lived for a year on money she saved from her fashion business in China, Tan said. When the money ran out, he got an under-the-table cash job in a casino restaurant kitchen, Tan testified.
In Las Vegas, he met up with an old friend who had moved to San Francisco and who talked them into moving to Sacramento to grow marijuana, according to Tan, in a burgeoning indoor industry that has swept through the south area of the city and down into Elk Grove.
“He went to San Francisco to undertake training provided by his friend,” Tan testified. “Thereafter, his friend came to Sacramento to help him set up the equipment for the grow.”
But their business failed to prosper, she said, and thieves worsened the situation by breaking into their grow houses and stealing their pot. Fang also gambled away what money they did generate, according to the woman’s testimony.
Amid the bad luck, “We were all the time having quarrels,” Tan testified. “At this time, he began to slap me.”
He roughed her up the worst, Tan said, when she questioned his operation of the business.
“He told me to shut up, to not talk about this, and that if I continued to talk back, he would tape my mouth to keep me from speaking,” she testified.
Then came the hangings, when he’d tie her by the wrists and chain them to ceiling hooks.
“One time the lights fell off and killed nine marijuana plants,” Tan told the jury. “He was very upset about it. Then he thought, ‘Why don’t I hang you up there, and if you fall, the chains are not sturdy enough. But if you don’t, then they are sturdy enough.”
When she resisted sex, he tied her to the bed.
He struck her with bamboo, with four-by-fours. She said he hit her over the head with a spatula, a ladle, chopsticks – “whatever was convenient.”
“One time I made soup with pork bones,” Tan said. “He liked pork bones. That time, I didn’t save them for him. I gave them all to the dogs. He said, ‘You don’t love me. You love the dogs more than me.’ He banished me to the backyard to spend the night with the dogs.”
He later told her, “I am going to butcher the dogs,” Tan testified.
She said when he watched boxing on television, “he would turn around and hit me, and he’d say, ‘Why can’t you participate in the fun?’ ” She said she fought back on occasion. “Then you are really asking for a beating,” Tan said, “and I would be hung up.”
Tan said Fang usually consoled her afterward, took her shopping, and bought her diamonds.
“He would tell me it was male pressure that made him do what he did,” she testified. “He told me I could hang him up and beat him, too.”
She agreed that she “felt a lot of pressure just surviving in this country.”
She did eventually hit him over the head with the ballast, which she will discuss when her testimony continues Monday at 9 a.m. in front of Judge Marjorie Koller.
Call The Bee’s Andy Furillo, (916) 321-1141. Follow him on Twitter @andyfurillo.