Meng Long Li contends innocence, gives emotional statement during sentencing
“I feel like I’ve dishonored my father and dishonored my family,” MSU alumnus Meng Long Li said at his sentencing on the morning of July 15. “The price of this lesson is too high.”
Meng Long Li was sentenced to one year in the Ingham County Jail by Judge Clinton Canady III for his involvement in the assault of fellow international student Yan Li during the 2014 Chinese New Year at a local karaoke bar. Found guilty last month of assault with a dangerous weapon and assault and battery, he faced a maximum sentence of four years in prison.
The prosecutor for the trial, Kimberly Hesse, quickly fought down any suggestion from Meng Long Li’s defense attorney, Chris Bergstrom, who tried to negotiate down some points in the pre-sentencing report, arguing against classifications of aggravated physical abuse and excessive brutality.
Hesse referred to Chengguan, the alleged Chinese gang on MSU’s campus named after an infamous para-police force in China, of which she alleged Meng Long Li was a “ringleader.”
Based on witness testimony, Hesse alleged that Meng Long Li said, “How did it feel when I beat you last time?” to his victim that night. She was referring to an incident two months prior when Yan Li was allegedly assaulted by Meng Long Li.
Canady didn’t bend to any of Bergstrom’s changes, saying “I have to take exception to Mr. Bergstrom’s assertion” that the assault wasn’t excessively brutal.
“This ... was far beyond normal aggravated assault,” he said, referring to the brutality of the water pitcher. Hesse also pointed to Meng Long Li allegedly shoving Yan Li’s girlfriend to the ground after she tried to protect him.
At the close of the sentencing, Meng Long Li himself spoke, and articulated how sorry he was and how he had disappointed his family. He said between the conviction and the sentencing he ”(had) never had so much time to think.”
He had been accepted to Columbia University after graduating from MSU at the end of 2014, but his admission was rescinded after his conviction, along with his Green Card. He expressed sorrow and noted how “everything’s gone wrong” in what had seemed a very bright future.
Though he still maintains he wasn’t the one who ultimately struck Yan Li with the water pitcher, he did confess to being in the wrong place at the wrong time.
His sister came from China to be there at the sentencing, although his parents were unable to make it, due in part to his mother’s health problems.
“You can’t avoid mistakes in life,” Meng Long Li said. “But you can always learn from it.”
His sympathetic address went almost ignored by Canady, who couldn’t look past testimonies about prior confrontations with his victim. Most of the prosecution’s original suggestion for his sentencing was ultimately taken up by the judge.
Five months of his sentence will be suspended, and he will also have to pay $704 in restitution to the State of Michigan, along with other state fees.
Meng Long Li has 42 days to appeal the decision.