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Jury finds woman guilty of manslaughter in boyfriend’s death

Sacramento Superior Court jurors found Yanqun Tan guilty of voluntary manslaughter Thursday in the 2012 killing of her boyfriend at their south Sacramento home.

The verdict came after tearful testimony from Tan on Monday detailing physical and sexual abuse meted out by Rufi Fang and the final, violent struggle that ended with the man’s death.

Sacramento County district attorney’s prosecutor William Satchel had sought murder charges against Tan, but the nine-woman, three-man panel found her not guilty of first- and second-degree murder.

Sacramento defense attorney Pete Harned argued that his client killed Fang, 55, in self-defense during a life-and-death bedroom struggle that played out after Fang threatened to “hang up” Tan, Fang’s term for suspending Tan from chains before beating her.

Tan repeatedly struck Fang with a hydroponic ballast – a piece of equipment growers use to regulate wattage to their lighting systems – killing him. The equipment was used in the pair’s unsuccessful marijuana growing businesses, a source of frustration that prompted beatings by Fang, Tan testified.

Jury foreman Steve Greene, following the verdict before Sacramento Superior Court Judge Marjorie Koller, called the case one of “imperfect self-defense.” Tan testified that she had wrapped a bloodied, beaten Fang in plastic bags after the killing.

“We saw her in a rage of passion. ... She did choose to fight,” Greene said.

The pair were lovers who fled their families and their native China in 2005 for America – first to Las Vegas, then to San Francisco where a friend of Fang’s persuaded them to cultivate marijuana using vacant homes in Sacramento and Elk Grove for their growing operations.

Prosecutors argued that Tan was angered by Fang’s oft-repeated threat to leave her and reunite with the wife he left behind in China, anger that drove Tan to murder.

But Tan testified she increasingly became the target of Fang’s rage at their faltering pot growing business, absorbing brutal beatings and forced sex, sometimes while being suspended by chains from their garage’s rafters.

In the trial’s final days, Linda Barnard, a traumatic stress expert who evaluated Tan twice in 2014, concluded that Tan was a battered woman who suffered an escalation of physical, psychological and sexual abuse in the last three years of her relationship with Fang.

“Her sense of danger was extremely high,” Barnard testified on Monday.

Tan, 55, had been held in Sacramento County custody since turning herself in to authorities in the days following Fang’s killing. She faces a sentence of probation to 11 years in state prison, her attorney Harned said. Her sentencing is set for April 24 in Sacramento Superior Court.

Call The Bee’s Darrell Smith, (916) 321-1040.

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