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Bai’s lawyers never denied Bai attacked Li. They argued instead that Bai was a product of an abusive upbringing who didn’t intend to kill. They said after the December hearing that they were satisfied the jury spared Bai’s life.

“We wanted to keep him off death row,” Draskovich said.

Langford cast Bai as an “abused and frightened man in his 20s” who was hospitalized for three days in China after being beaten with a bat, then sent to a martial arts boarding school. Bai moved as a teenager to Los Angeles in 2005, where he became a permanent legal U.S. resident, Langford said.

The jury in Las Vegas was told that Bai searched for Li for several days prior to the Forbes KTV attack. When Bai learned that Li was at the karaoke bar, Bai’s then-girlfriend, Pei “Nikki” Pei, drove him there in a black Honda Accord with the license plate covered.

Bai went inside, where jurors were told Li saw Bai coming before grabbing another man, Jian Guo, and pushing him toward Bai.

Guo was cut on his arm before Bai caught Li fleeing down a hallway and set upon stabbing him 32 times.

A woman in the bar, Lin Yao, was stabbed four times when she tried to intervene, thinking that Bai was punching Li, according to testimony.

Pei, who initially faced the same charges as Bai, pleaded guilty before trial to reduced felony charges of accessory to murder for driving Bai to and from the club the night of the killing. She testified against Bai but said she didn’t know for several days afterward that Li was dead.

Pei, 26, was sentenced last month to two years’ probation.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials have put a hold on Bai since his felony convictions, and Langford said he could be deported if he ever is freed from prison.

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