The verdict is in on the case against Brian Dickson, the man charged with the murder of Qian Liu who was killed while Liu’s boyfriend watched in horror via webcam. Dickson was found guilty of first degree murder on Monday, April 6 in the assault that occurred on April 15, 2011.
Liu was 23-years-old when the York University student from Beijing, China sat in the students basement apartment and chatted with ex-boyfriend Xian Meng on webcam. Meng who was in China at the time had no idea that he was about to witness Liu getting attacked and murdered. The two had broken up three times before that evening but had kept in contact as close friends.The ex-lovers chat was interrupted when there was a knock at the door, a knock that Meng had heard. Meng watched as girlfriend Liu got up and went to the door. Meng saw a man chatting with Liu, who then passed the man the university students cellphone. Liu lived in a resident that was filled with other students and was having Wi-Fi issues and had asked around the residency if anyone could help Liu fix it. Meng had assumed that this was the reason for the rapport he had witnessed via webcam.
During the trial Meng had testified that “The man was in and out of the door frame.” Meng continued, “It seemed that he was hesitant.” Recounting the eerie events that took place, Meng testified that the man seemed to have been about to leave when “All of a sudden, something horrible took place.” A struggle began and Liu tried to push out the intruder by closing the door but the man had made his way into the apartment. Meng watched on webcam as Liu tried to beat the man’s chest with her fists as the stranger tried to embrace Liu. Meng had heard the ex-girlfriend say “no” in Cantonese and then again in English. Liu was then thrown to the ground and suddenly off camera. Meng said that he heard two muted bangs and then Meng never heard another word from the York University student again. The only thing that was audible was heavy breathing and some jingling of keys before the man appeared in front of the webcam. “He was already naked. I could see the part of his body,” Meng explained, “below the abdomen to the knees.” The stranger then leaned into the camera and ended the webcam video call. Meng and Liu were also corresponding on the two friends cellphones at the time and Meng continued to make an audio recording as the cellphone connection was still open.
Dickson told authorities that he was in Liu’s room hours before the attack, talking to the university student about cooking. Dickson had lived in the same building as Liu and was in the basement in the laundry room which was close to Liu’s door. Dickson said that he had many drinks that evening as well as taking a sleeping aid drug, Seroquel. At the time of Dickson’s arrest, the police said that Dickson had an anxiety/depression drug and anti-psychotic medication on Dickson’s person.
When the first degree murder verdict was read at the ‘murder on webcam’ trial, Liu’s father cried and wiped the tears from his face. Dickson did not react or say anything.
The autopsy report could not fully determine Liu’s cause of death but the trial revealed it was probably by mechanical asphyxiation. Mechanical asphyxiation is caused by compression enforced on ones neck. Semen found on Liu’s body was matched with Dickson’s DNA. The jury deliberated for four hours before delivering the verdict of first degree murder which means that the jury also believed that Dickson was murdered in scheme of sexual assault. Meng will no doubt ever forget watching Liu get attacked and murdered as he watched and listened on webcam.
By Derik L. Bradshaw