A man who fled to Taiwan after murdering someone over an $80 debt for Vancouver nightclub tickets has been sentenced to life in prison with no chance of parole for 12 years.

Lee Chia “Kenny” Weng shot and killed 19-year-old Shaoxin Zhang in a Burnaby parking lot on Jan. 22, 2006. Zhang’s best friend, Te “Ralph” Wu, was wounded in the shooting.

Weng, 42, left for Taiwan the next day, and he lived there openly for the next 12 years, starting a family and building a career in a country that does not have an extradition agreement with Canada.

Weng, who is also known as Jui-Kai Weng, was finally arrested in South Korea last year and promptly extradited. He was found guilty of second-degree murder and attempted murder this summer. Weng was sentenced last month, after a hearing that included a victim impact statement from Zhang’s mother.

The grieving mom wrote about “how devastated her family was and that she will never get over the thing that happened,” B.C. Supreme Court Justice Mark McEwan said in his reasons for sentence.

“It is quite obvious that she was seriously hurt by this and she has waited 12 years or more for this outcome and is hoping that Mr. Weng is brought to justice.”

Wu also submitted a victim impact statement explaining how he has been affected by the death of his best friend. Wu told the court that he feels guilty about Zhang’s mother losing her only child.

“He says he broke that family and that he cannot face [Zhang]’s mother even now. He is still very sad,” McEwan wrote.

The judge sentenced Weng to nine years in prison for the attempted murder of Wu, to be served concurrently with his life sentence for Zhang’s murder. It’s possible that Weng will face further prosecution when he is deported to Taiwan after serving his time in Canada, according to the judge.

‘Difficult to explain’ the murder

McEwan described the crime as “a murder that is still difficult to explain, at least to myself.”

On the day of the shooting, Weng and some friends met with Zhang and Wu to discuss an alleged $80 debt for tickets to the Yaletown club Au Bar. A fight broke out, and Weng started shooting, hitting Wu in the shoulder and Zhang in the groin.

Weng flew to Taiwan the next day. He now has a wife, nine-year-old daughter and four-year-old son in that country.

According to the judge’s reasons, Weng first came to Canada under an investor class visa in 1993 and stayed until 1997, when he left to attend school in Taiwan. He returned to Canada in 2003, gaining permanent residency.

A second man, Huan Sheng “Leo” Tang, was convicted of obstruction of justice in 2008 for his involvement in the shooting.