Crime

Arizona Woman Pleads Guilty To Shooting Chinese Exchange Student

Arizona Woman Pleads Guilty To Shooting Chinese Exchange Student
New Times photo illustration / Zac MacDonald
(UPDATE: Bill Montgomery, Maricopa County Attorney, defends the plea deal his office made with Holly Davis following complaints from the victim's family.)

Holly Davis, who shot and killed a Chinese exchange student attending Arizona State University, has pled guilty  to second-degree murder.

Davis made international headlines when she shot 19-year-old Yue Jiang in Tempe in January 2016. According to police reports, she first rear-ended Jiang's Mercedes while driving on Broadway Road near McClintock Drive, then got out of her Volkswagen Passat and shot her.

While it's not totally clear what motivated Davis to commit this random act of violence, she appears to have had a death wish. Police said that she'd admitted to using Oxycodone, had struggled with depression, and was estranged from her husband. She'd also expressed a desire to be shot by law enforcement, according to court records.


According to NBC News, the incident prompted some parents in China to reconsider sending their children to the United States for college. Meanwhile, some Chinese students at ASU contemplated purchasing guns of their own, China Daily reported.

Prosecutors initially sought to charge Davis on 14 criminal counts, including first-degree murder, aggravated assault, disorderly conduct, and endangerment. She pled not guilty to those charges at an initial hearing in February 2016.

In late February of this year, Davis entered into a plea agreement which calls for a 25-year-sentence and requires her to pay up to $250,000 in restitution, court records show. As part of the agreement, Davis pleaded guilty to second-degree murder. All other charges have been dismissed. The agreement will have to be approved by a judge at the sentencing hearing, which is scheduled for April 20.

Davis is represented by Alan Tavassoli of the Maricopa County Public Defender's Office. "I will not make any comment on this case, except to express my heartfelt condolences to the victims," Tavassoli wrote in an email.


Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery also has yet to comment on the case. "We haven't put out a statement," Amanda Jacinto, a spokeswoman for the Maricopa County Attorney's Office, said. Montgomery has a policy of not commenting to Phoenix New Times.

This story has been updated from its original version to include additional details about Davis' plea agreement, and comments from public defender Alan Tavassoli. Ray Stern contributed reporting.
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Antonia Noori Farzan is a staff writer at New Times and an honors graduate of Columbia University's Graduate School of Journalism. Before moving to Arizona, she worked for the New Times Broward-Palm Beach.