Death House Case File: Yun Tieh Li

NAME:

Li, Yun Tieh

#:

102-807

RACE:

Asian

RELIGION:

Catholic

CITIZEN:

Alien

BORN:

Hong Kong

AGE:

24

PHYSICAL:

5' 7-3/4", 130 lbs

MARITAL:

N/A

CHILDREN:

N/A

RES.:

Chinese Seamenís Association, Canal St., NYC

NEXT OF KIN:

None in U.S.

EDUCATION:

7th, China

EMPLOYED:

Yes

OCCUPATION:

Laundry Worker

 

 

CRIMINAL HISTORY:

 

 

 

CRIME:

Beat, choked, suffocated Marjorie Jasey, hotel room, robbery, 1-24-43.

 

 

ACCOMPLICE:

Lew York Ming (#102-808)

 

 

MOTIVE:

Bad company

 

 

ATTORNEYS:

Alexander I. Borke, 51 Chambers St., NYC

 

 

CONVICTED:

N/A

COUNTY:

NY

COURT:

General Sessions

JUDGE:

Jonah J. Goldstein

SENTENCED:

12-21-43

JAIL TIME:

195 days

RECEIVED DEATH HOUSE:

12-21-43

 

 

FILED APPEAL:

1-17-44

 

 

COURT OF APPEALS ACTION:

Denied appeal, fixed week beginning 8-28-44 as date for carrying out original sentence of death

 

 

FEDERAL COURT ACTION:

None

 

 

GOVERNOR:

Dewey

RESPITE/STAY:

 

CLEMENCY:

No

 

 

DISCHARGED:

Executed 8-31-44

 

 


  Convicted at the height of World War Two, on the anniversary of Pearl Harbor, this non-English-speaking Asian man was convicted of murdering a white woman.

After his conviction, on December 14, 1943, the head of the Probation Department wrote to the sentencing judge:
Dear Judge Goldstein:This defendant professes to be unable to speak or understand English, and as a consequence cannot be interviewed without an interpreter. We are making arrangements to secure such service and to interview the defendant and present our report as soon as possible.Respectfully submitted,IRVING W. HALPERN
Chief Probation Officer
Court of General Sessions


  On 8-27-44, Miss Helen Perrone of 79 Mott Street, Manhattan, a young girl who knew him and his convicted associate, wrote to the Warden of Sing Sing as follows in an effort to assist them:

Monday, August 27, 1944
My Dear Warden,
   I have never written a letter of such a serious nature before, nor to such an important person as yourself, therefore if I make an error of some kind, kindly excuse me.
Mr. Snyder, this letter is to ask a favor of you, and I'm writing directly to you, because I believe you are the only one who can grant the a request of this nature. I am only a young girl of 18, and I'm not well acquainted with the technicalities of our laws, therefore if the request I ask is impossible, please pardon me for asking it. Just bear in mind that I had only good intentions in asking you, and my only thought was to bring a last note of good will to 2 condemned men. I know you are a busy man, Mr. Snyder, so I will get to the point.You see, Sir, I read in Sunday's paper, about the two condemned men, Yun Lieh Li and Lew York Ming, who are about to be executed shortly, for the strangling of a woman. This article caught my attention, because I've known the two defendants for a long period of time. You probably think this unusual, that I, a white girl, would know these two young Chinese boys, for such a long time. Let me explain to you, that I was born, raised and am now living in a section of N.Y. known as Chinatown. That's how I've come to know the two men. They might not remember me or my name, as I have not seen them for quite some time. I had heard of the trouble they were in some time ago, but could hardly believe it. They were always such fine upstanding boys, a trifle reckless, but not really dangerous. But Sunday, when I realized they were to be executed for murder, it seemed frankly, impossible. I know not the circumstances of the crime, but whatever they may be, I'm sure they must have fallen into some terrible temptation, and committed the crime by some accident.Warden, they are not killers!! No matter what the verdict was, or how they were judged. I believe in my heart, that they could willfully commit a murder any more than you could. Now I have to stand helplessly by, and watch two young lives being snuffed out, because of a cruel trick of fate! I grew up in the same neighborhood as these boys and came to know them as well as my friends and relatives. I could never have foreseen what life had in store for them, because if I had, I would have offered any assistance in my power.Now that they are about to die, the only way I can assist them, is by praying to God to have mercy on their souls, and to be with them in their last hour.I have written the both of them notes, which I have enclosed in this letter. The request I ask of you, is that my notes be delivered to them, before they are executed. I have left them unsealed for your careful examination. You can read them and see that they are perfectly harmless notes, and they may bring comfort in their last hour, to these poor condemned men. I beseech you, sir, to kindly have these notes delivered, for although this effort is of no help to me, I'm sure it will be beneficial to those boys, who are to meet such a terrible fate. I ask your kindest indulgence, in granting me this request. If it cannot be done, then I thank you just the same. I would be grateful if you answered this letter, and let me know whether my plea was successful or not. Thank you a million times.Respectfully yours,
Helen Perrone

Warden Snyder denied her request to be able to correspond with LI and MING.

NOTE: Although he was exonerated in a last-minute confession by his alleged accomplice, Ming, both men were executed.
Yun's Letter to Chief Justice Lehman (photo)
SOURCE: Sing Sing Death House, Case files B0145-80, Case file 8(3)/Legal Action Log, NYS Archives