Art Basel Miami Stabber Pleads Guilty to Attempted Murder
She thought she was attacking ISIS.
One of the most bizarre stories to hit the art world in recent years quietly came to a close in a Florida courtroom on Thursday, as one woman pleaded guilty to second-degree attempted murder.
Siyuan Zhao, who made international headlines after stabbing a fellow-visitor to the Art Basel Miami Beach fair, accepted a plea deal which required her to board a plane back to her native China, reports the Miami Herald, where she will be under the care of her parents. She will never be allowed to set foot in the US again.
A Chinese national who lived in Manhattan, Zhao had initially pleaded not guilty shortly after the attack. She had recently completed a degree in architecture at the University of Oregon and had moved to New York in hopes of getting into graduate school, a friend of hers told the New York Post.
“She was very psychotic,” Dr. Ilan Melnick testified, adding that “she felt ISIS was going to be at Art Basel to destroy the art,” reports the Herald.
Zhao assaulted 33-year-old visitor Shin Seo Young, stabbing her in the neck with an X-Acto knife. Young was not seriously injured. Because of the setting, some onlookers initially took the attack to be performance art.
Zhao has been in “intense mental health treatment” ever since.
“It’s very difficult for a judge to give someone the maximum penalty,” Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Alberto Milian announced in rendering the verdict. “But it is equally as difficult to be open minded to understand that not every crime deserves maximum punishment.”
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