A woman stabbed her newlywed husband “straight through the heart” at their Pico-Union apartment, drunk and angry over the time he spent on his business and playing video games, a prosecutor alleged Monday, while a defense attorney told jurors his client couldn’t remember what happened but physical evidence would show she didn’t commit the crime.
Misun Yoo, 28, is charged with murder in the stabbing death of 31-year-old Tae Kyung Sung, on July 30, 2017.
The couple had been married four months when Yoo “stabbed him once right in the chest, straight through the heart,” Deputy District Attorney Irene Lee alleged in her opening statement.
Yoo, dressed all in black, her hair pulled back in a bun and hands folded in her lap, listened to a Korean translation of the proceedings through an earpiece.
Sung, a “happy, well-liked young man” better known as Andy, had a “whirlwind romance” with Yoo when she came to the U.S. for a visit and was so dismayed when she had to return home that he surprised friends and family by quickly marrying her when she returned in March 2017, Lee told the Los Angeles Superior Court jury.
He was working hard to build his business, a karaoke nightclub in Koreatown called the Barcode, the prosecutor said.
“He did all this to support her,” but “she was unsupportive; she constantly picked on him,” Lee said.
Sung liked to relax by playing video games, something his wife hated, the prosecutor said. She said the couple drank and each accused the other of drinking too much.
“There had been domestic violence in the home … it went both ways,” Lee said.
The prosecutor showed the six-man, six-woman jury photos of two informal contracts the couple wrote out, agreeing to take steps to better their marriage, including no physical fighting and drinking only in moderation. One agreement listed an item, “I am always number one,” which Lee said referred to Yoo.
In another handwritten note, the defendant agreed not to hit her husband.
The night of the killing, Yoo had been drinking and “she had also done some cocaine in an attempt to sober up,” Lee said.
The two finished up the night at Barcode around 4 a.m. and friends drove them home to their apartment in the 1100 block of Menlo Avenue, across the street from the Los Angeles Police Department’s Olympic Division station. Sung then logged onto his computer and was texting with someone shortly before he was stabbed.
Lee played the 911 call Yoo made, in which a dispatcher struggled to understand her and repeatedly asked what language she spoke. Yoo identified her address as “1124 Avenue” more than once, but failed to give the street name and said at one point, “I’m sorry … I know I’m drunk … no address.”
Officers arrived minutes later to find “Andy slumped over his computer chair with a knife sticking out of his heart,” Lee said.
Yoo told officers that “a Mexican man” broke in and stabbed her husband before running off, but no signs of forced entry or a burglary were found, the prosecutor said.
Investigators did find blood in the kitchen sink, bathroom sink and shower where Lee said the defendant tried to clean up.
The investigation uncovered “the history of domestic violence … and the rage the defendant had” over her husband’s video game playing and attention to his business and “it revealed only one suspect,” Lee said.
“The defendant had told Andy in the past, `I have to be your number one’ … he paid the ultimate price,” the prosecutor said.
Defense attorney David Paek asked jurors to consider, “What is the scariest thing that can ever happen to you? … How about opening your eyes and finding your husband sitting in a pool of blood with a knife plunged into his chest?”
That’s what happened to Yoo, who couldn’t remember what happened, he said.
“Not remembering is the scariest thing,” the defense attorney said.
Yoo rushed to give her husband first aid and begged and pleaded with him not to die, according to her attorney.
As she tried to recall what had happened, Yoo was suffering from jaw pain as if her “face was used like a punching bag,” Paek said. “Maybe there was an intruder.”
Again asking jurors to put themselves in Yoo’s place, Paek said, “You can’t believe that you could have done it, but you just can’t remember.”
When she was being interviewed by police and was told her husband was dead, Yoo “broke down in shock and in trauma,” the defense attorney said.
When a detective told her that video surveillance and DNA evidence all pointed to her as the only suspect, Yoo told him, “Enough, I did it … just say I did everything.” But the detective did not yet have video surveillance or DNA evidence and only said so to force a false confession, Paek said.
“That is not the truth … there is a truth here that even Miss Yoo doesn’t know about … that the detectives don’t want you to know about,” he said, telling jurors that physical evidence would tell the real story.
“You must become, each and every one of you, CSI detectives,” Paek said, though he provided no specifics about the evidence that might exonerate his client.
“When all is said and done, you will find that Miss Yoo had nothing to do with her husband’s stabbing, but everything to do with his death,” Paek said.
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