Trial to Begin for Chinese Ax Murders

A man charged with killing eight people, including a 2-year-old boy slain with an ax, goes on trial Monday in central China, state media reported.

The official Xinhua News Agency said junk dealer Xiong Zhenlin was to go on trial in Hubei province. He was arrested Jan. 11 and charged with killing eight people.

Xinhua reported at the time that Xiong had confessed to killing the boy, Zou Chuanshuo, and the child's grandmother Zhu Deqing, 43, as well as six others.

It said neighbors told police that Xiong wanted to marry Zhu — a widow — but she turned him down.

The bodies of the boy and grandmother were found in their home in Luoyang in Hubei province with head wounds that suggested the killer used an ax, Xinhua said.

Police discovered six other bodies — three men and three women — after searching Xiong's junkyard. The six, between the ages of 45 and 69, were employees at his salvage operation, but it wasn't clear when they had been killed. Investigators found bloodstained axes and hammers on the premises.

Although private gun ownership is virtually banned, violent crimes have become more common in China in recent years, including scattered cases of revenge attacks.