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Details emerge in murder case in connection to stabbings at The Oaks off Richland Road in Auburn
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Details emerge in murder case in connection to stabbings at The Oaks off Richland Road in Auburn

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A preliminary hearing on Monday revealed details of the alleged murder of an Auburn faculty member and alleged attempted murder of his wife in a neighborhood off Richland Road in October.

Zhuobin Wang, a Chinese foreign exchange student at Auburn University, is charged with two counts of capital murder and one count of attempted murder in connection with the Oct. 22 stabbings of Lijun Xuan and Zhengzheng Wu in The Oaks Neighborhood. 

Wang appeared in court on Monday for a preliminary hearing in the case. Lee County Judge Russell Bush found probable cause and forwarded the case to a grand jury. 

Wang stabbed Xuan 23 times and killed him, and he stabbed Wu about 60 times, police said. She received treatment for weeks before being released.

Police pointed to displaced molding on the back door of the house where the death occurred as evidence of a forced entry, and they found blood in multiple rooms in the house’s downstairs area, according to Auburn police detective Levi Donnelly, who was called as a witness in Wang’s preliminary hearing.

“There was blood from the front door area, throughout the living room and kitchen — really the whole common area downstairs,” Donelly said.

Wu heard a knock on the front door the evening of Oct. 22 and saw Wang, whom she knew because he had lived with the family earlier that year as a renter, according to Donelly’s retelling of the statement to police by Wu, who was interviewed after she was able to leave the hospital.

Donelly said Wu called her husband to come downstairs, and while Xuan was trying to turn on his phone, Wang entered the house through the back door and stabbed Xuan in the back. After Wu attempted to intervene, police said Wang stabbed her.

Donnelly also said the couple’s two children, ages 8 and 5, were downstairs when the assault began and followed their mother's instructions to run outside.

Auburn police Lt. Michael Creighton, who was also called as a witness, said Wang took an Uber to the residence of Wu and Xuan the night of the murder and tried to decide what to do with the children on the ride over.

“He had lived there for some time, so he knew there were children in the house,” Creighton said.

After the couple was stabbed, police said they received a call from Wang who told them he had killed a family and asked them to come to the house.

“I killed people. I killed a family,” Wang said in a recording of the 911 call that was played during the preliminary hearing. “Not [an] accident. I killed them by myself. I wanted to kill them.”

When they arrived, Wang did not resist arrest and complied with officers, according to police. 

Richard Jaffe, one of Wang’s defense attorneys, questioned police on whether they believed he fully understood his rights as they were read to him because of Wang’s English-speaking ability, or if Wang had the help of an interpreter when being questioned by police.

Police said Wang was questioned without the help of an interpreter and officers had no issues communicating with Wang. During the preliminary hearing, Wang did have the assistance of an interpreter.

His attorneys said Wang was upset with how he was treated when he lived with Xuan and Wu, and there was a dispute about money that Wang owed to the couple.

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