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Allegations of Jealousy, Murder _ Echoes of OJ

September 28, 1995

SANTA ANA, Calif. (AP) _ A hopelessly deadlocked jury led to a mistrial Thursday in the trial of a woman accused of fatally stabbing her millionaire husband’s lover and suffocating her rival’s infant son.

The jury failed to reach a verdict after six days of deliberation and deadlocked 10-2 in favor of convicting Li-Yun ``Lisa″ Peng, a 47-year-old Taiwanese, in a case of jealousy, double murder and media frenzy.

She was accused of stabbing her husband’s 25-year-old lover, Ranbing ``Jennifer″ Ji, and suffocating Ji’s 5-month-old son.

``I’m sure it’s a disappointment for everybody,″ defense attorney Marshall Schulman said.

The case was expected to be retried in several months.

The 1993 slayings took place in an apartment where Peng’s husband, wealthy businessman Tseng Jyi ``Jim″ Peng, 52, had installed his mistress from China.

The case has a wide audience in Taiwan, Hong Kong, mainland China and elsewhere in Asia.

``It’s a baby O.J.,″ said Larry Wang of the Chinese Daily News, the largest Chinese-language daily in North America. ``No criminal case will ever compare to O.J. Simpson’s trial, but to the Asian community, the Chinese community, this is similar.″

One juror was replaced 29 days into the trial after a reporter gave him a calling card. Superior Court Judge Kathleen O’Leary said the juror didn’t do anything wrong but was dismissed to avoid the appearance of impropriety.

Journalists breached court etiquette by photographing jurors and following attorneys into restrooms. Court proceedings were often punctuated by camera flashes.

``They’re just like barracuda,″ said James Smith, the presiding Orange County Superior Court judge. ``It’s the first time we’ve had a case that generated this kind of interest from foreign-language news media.″

The competition has prompted some reporters to set aside their principles and common sense, said Jane Wu, assistant chief reporter for Sing Tao Chinese Daily News.

``When they were complaining about how Chinese reporters were approaching the juror, I felt very much ashamed, because I knew what was going on and could not stop them from doing it,″ she said.

The case is seen as fascinating because it touches on social and economic issues in this country and in Asia.

``The Chinese government doesn’t like to see so many girls get a boyfriend with a man who has a wife already,″ said Vincent Cai, a businessman who emigrated from Quindao, the city where Ji grew up.

``That’s a big societal problem, and that’s why so many people are interested in this case.″

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