Chen Shi appeared in a Calhoun County courtroom Tuesday afternoon.
He was released under supervised probation, according to Bill Wineman, Jacksonville assistant police chief, who was an investigator during the 1996 case.
It’s a case that takes Jacksonville assistant police chief Bill Wineman back to 1996, when Jacksonville State student Zihui Liu was murdered.
“She came here to get a better education,” he said. “She came here to get a better life and go back to her country.”
That never happened because she met Chen Shi, a Chinese national.
“During the investigation we told Mr. Shi, don’t leave town,” Wineman said. “He immediately left town.”
A search spanning over a decade followed, before Shi was arrested for murder in 2011.
“He sat in the Calhoun County jail until one day his attorney called and said he wants to go ahead and plead guilty and go back to China,” Wineman said.
In December of 2015, Shi plead guilty to murder and was picked up by ICE, for what Wineman thought was immediate deportation.
“I was notified yesterday that in fact he was not deported,” he said. “They were trying to do the deportation paperwork, the Chinese government refused to take him back.”
Shi was set to walk a free man as of Friday, but after 20 plus years of this case, Wineman wasn’t resting easy.
“I originally wanted him deported, but if China will not take him, let him serve his 20 year sentence,” he said.