Hongli Sun Could Face Death Penalty in Fatal Stabbing of Wife's Former Boss and Lover

UPDATE, JULY 21, 12:33 P.M.: An Irvine engineer faces, at best, life in prison without the possibility of parole and, at worst, the death penalty if he is convicted of murdering an Irvine dentist who'd had an affair with the defendant's wife, who'd worked at the same dental office.


In charging 38-year-old Hongli Sun with felony assault with a deadly weapon and sentencing enhancements for great bodily injury and the personal use of a deadly weapon, the Orange County District Attorney's office (OCDA) added a felony count of special circumstances murder by lying in wait. That means the district attorney or a special panel of prosecutors could decide at a later date to pursue the death penalty.

Sun, who was being held without bail, was expected to be arraigned some time today at the Central Jail in Santa Ana.

The allegation of lying in wait with the intent to murder stems from Sun being accused of sitting in his Mercedes SUV Saturday afternoon, seeing 54-year-old Xuan Liu walking in the parking lot and intentionally driving toward the older man, who was hit by the vehicle.

“As Liu attempted to stand up, Sun is accused of getting out of his SUV and approaching the victim with a knife. Sun is accused of stabbing Liu,” reads an OCDA arraignment statement that notes Liu was pronounced dead at the scene as a result of his injuries.

Liu had a dental practice in Irvine, where Sun's wife, Huaying Chen, worked last summer. Sun and Chen married in Singapore in 2003 and separated in Orange County on Sept. 16.

In divorce papers reviewed by City News Service, Chen listed Liu as her “boyfriend.” But she and Sun, who have an 8-year-old son together, later reconciled and stopped divorce proceedings in November.

“At the time our Judgment of Dissolution was entered, we each believed irreconcilable differences caused the irremediable breakdown of our marriage, However, we were both mistaken …,” reads a court filing. “For a host of personal, cultural, and religious reasons, we do not want any public record to reflect that we are divorced. Even if such record is later changed, a harmful stigma could result. Therefore, it is imperative to us that this stipulation and order by entered today.”

The divorce was vacated by the court on April 24.


ORIGINAL POST, JULY 20, 9:39 A.M.: A jealous husband fatally stabbed a 54-year-old man in an Irvine parking lot because the attacker believed the victim was having a relationship with his wife, according to police.

The Orange County Coroner's Office identified Xuan Liu as the man who was stabbed to death, and Irvine Police spokeswoman Farrah Emami says 38-year-old Hongli Sun of Irvine is the accused killer.

Sun was in his Mercedes sport utility vehicle in the parking lot at 4980 Barranca Parkway around 1:20 p.m. Saturday when he spotted Liu on foot, Emami said. Sun “drove his vehicle at the victim with the intention of hitting him with the car,” she said. “As the victim attempted to stand up, Sun got out of his car and stabbed him. A female associate of the victim attempted to intervene and was stabbed in the struggle.”

Liu was pronounced dead at the scene at 1:32 p.m., according to the coroner's office. The lady was taken to a hospital and is expected to survive, said Emami, who added Sun was arrested in the parking lot without incident.

Currently held without bail in the Orange County Sheriff's Men's Intake Release Center, Sun is scheduled to be arraigned Tuesday.

Email: mc****@oc******.com. Twitter: @MatthewTCoker. Follow OC Weekly on Twitter @ocweekly or on Facebook!

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