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Man's sanity is on trial

Already convicted of murder, Glendale resident has his mental state judged.

September 01, 2010|By Veronica Rocha, veronica.rocha@latimes.com
(Courtesy of the…)

BURBANK — A Montrose-based psychologist testified Tuesday that the 48-year-old Glendale man who was convicted of stabbing his girlfriend to death reported hearing controlling voices moments before the attack.

During Soo Duk Kim's sanity trial, which began Monday after jurors found him guilty of second-degree murder for killing 52-year-old Susan Kim on Dec. 16, 2007, psychologist Jungyeol Oh testified in a Los Angeles County Superior Courtroom in Burbank that the Korean immigrant felt humiliated after a confrontation over smoking marijuana.

After the argument, Susan Kim took his keys and told him to return to Korea.

"He felt there was no reason for him to continue his life," Oh said.

Moments before killing Susan Kim, Oh told jurors Soo Duk Kim reported feeling his eyes roll back, his legs and arms stiffen and hearing a man's voice say, "Kill the devil and kill yourself."

He associated the devil with Susan Kim and attacked her, Oh said.

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"It was like he was flowing with a stream of water," Oh said. "He couldn't remember what happened. He was doing something he was told to do."

Soo Duk Kim's revelation about hearing voices during the murder came after Oh had already conducted seven interviews with him.

She conceded under questioning by Los Angeles County Deputy Dist. Atty. Carolina Lugo that he had never mentioned hearing voices during police interviews when he confessed to the murder. But she told Lugo that she accepted Soo Duk Kim's statements as being truthful.

After killing Susan Kim, Soo Duk Kim tried cutting his wrists and considered driving off the freeway and plunging to his death, Lo said.

Glendale police detectives arrested him the next day in a Koreatown motel, where he dumped a hotel key and bag containing bloodied clothing inside a trash can.

Oh told Lugo that once he saw Susan Kim's body, he snapped out of his delusional state, and that his actions after the killing were procedural and not necessarily an attempt to remove evidence.

While in jail, Oh said Soo Duk Kim reported hearing Susan Kim's voice around Christmas, and more voices again when doctors lowered the dosage of his mood-stabilizing medicine.

That's also when he tried hanging himself at the jail, Oh said, adding that his schizoaffective disorder had never been properly treated.

Soo Duk Kim and his family told her that he had suffered from visual and auditory hallucinations for most of his life, she testified, and that he also struggled with bouts of depression and drug use.

Soo Duk Kim was also institutionalized in the 1970s in Korea for a behavioral disorder, Oh said.

Testimony was scheduled to wrap up today.

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