A woman was sentenced Monday to 16 years to life behind bars for fatally stabbing her husband of four months in their Pico-Union apartment last year.
Misun Yoo, a 28-year-old Korean national, was convicted last month of second-degree murder in the July 30, 2017, death of 31-year-old Tae Kyung Sung. Jurors deliberated for about two hours before finding her guilty and also finding true an allegation that she personally used a knife.
Yoo’s attorney argued during the trial that blood-spatter evidence suggested Sung took his own life.
Deputy District Attorney Colby Cano told jurors Sung had no reason to kill himself. He was working hard to build his business, a karaoke nightclub in Koreatown called the Barcode, according to the prosecutor.
The couple stayed at the club until about 4 a.m. the day Sung died. 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, and then Sung logged onto his computer.
Attorneys said Sung, who was known as Andy, exchanged text messages with a friend for about 15 minutes before Yoo called 911, struggling to make herself understood as she asked for help, because she spoke very little English. When officers arrived minutes later, they found Sung slumped over his computer chair, his sleeveless T-shirt drenched in blood and a knife sticking out of his heart.
Yoo initially told officers that a man broke in, punched her and stabbed her husband, but she later told investigators she had no memory of what had happened, Cano said.
“The evidence in the case is … completely inconsistent with their claim of suicide,” Cano said. The prosecutor told jurors that Sung was happy and there were “no warning signs of any kind … no suicide note … no history of mental health issues. This is not someone who’s closing himself off to the outside world.”
The prosecutor said evidence of blood found in the bathroom and kitchen sinks and a shower drain proved that Yoo tried to clean up before police arrived.
Cano said that despite hours of questioning by police, she never suggested that her husband had committed suicide, and ultimately told investigators, “Just say I did it. I don’t remember.”
Defense attorney David Paek said his client was “stumbling drunk” when she left the club and frantic when she called police. He said Sung had beaten Yoo when the pair got home from the club, striking her on “the right cheek, the left jaw, the mouth. He beat her to the point of no return.”
Paek showed a photo of Yoo taken by police with her right cheekbone swollen and bruised.
“He was a wife-beater and that’s probably a dark secret that he didn’t want anyone to find out,” Paek told jurors.
Though Andy is “playful, hugging (and) caressing” his wife in video surveillance captured about an hour before the killing, Paek said “he has an image to keep up. He’s the nice guy.”
But when they got home, the defense attorney suggested, Sung knocked his wife out cold in an “irrational rage.”
That same rage led him to stab himself when he realized “he’d crossed a line that he could not return from,” the defense attorney said. Sung knew when his wife gained consciousness “she was going to pack her bags and she was going to leave him, and the thought of her leaving him … drove him to do this.”