Two men have been arrested for a vicious attack that left a 16-year-old girl slashed across the face and neck last December. Queens DA Richard Brown is calling the crime a case of "mistaken identity" involving "an innocent victim who was merely walking to school was slashed in the face by one of the defendants without warning or provocation. For the rest of her life she must bear the physical and emotional scars of that attack."
Wilson Lai, 25, of Oakland Gardens, Queens, and Devon Berkley, 36, of Allentown, Pennsylvania were charged in connection to the slashing, which occurred around 8:16 a.m. on December 16, 2015. Victim Jiajia Liang was walking near 147th Street and 13th Avenue, when Berkley allegedly "slashed her with a box cutter causing an injury to her left cheek and throat" before fleeing on 13th Avenue towards 146th Street.
Liang, who had come from China to study in the U.S., needed 200 stitches for the wounds. Assembly Member Ron Kim started a fund to raise money for her medical and educational needs.
In January of this year, a note was left on a damaged car with slashed tires, revealing that the victim was accidentally assaulted and a different girl was the target. A source told the Daily News that the threatening letter said, "I know a lot about you b----. Stop being a slut...You f---ed with the wrong person," signed by "The guy you should never f--- over."
The authorities believe that Lai hired Berkley to carry out the slashing, because Lai was involved with a different 16-year-old girl who lived in the same home as the victim. According to the DA's office, "Lai had a one-year sexual relationship with a girl beginning in June 2013 when she was fourteen years old." However, Berkley, who allegedly wore a surgical mask during the assault, attacked a different girl by mistake.
Lai and two other suspects were involved in leaving the note and wrecking the car in January.
Lai and Berkley were charged with assault, conspiracy, endangering the welfare of a child and criminal possession of a weapon. Lai also faces charges of rape, criminal sexual act, endangering the welfare of a child, criminal mischief, aggravated mischief and harassment. If convicted, Berkley faces up to 25 years in prison while Lai faces up to 32 years.