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Convicted murderer gets 16 to life

Soo Duk Kim, who killed his girlfriend, heard voices during the crime, according to his attorney.

September 28, 2010|By Veronica Rocha, veronica.rocha@latimes.com

BURBANK — A 49-year-old Glendale man who was convicted of killing his girlfriend was sentenced Tuesday to serve 16 years to life in prison.

A mostly stoic Soo Duk Kim became emotional after Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Michael Carter handed down the sentence in a Burbank courtroom for his second-degree murder conviction.

Kim's defense attorney argued that the Korean immigrant had heard voices in his head that prompted him to commit the stabbing.

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"And while it is true I do find the defendant did suffer some mental challenges early in his life and he was put in a hospital, looking at all of the evidence … I firmly believe the defendant was sane at the time, and that he knew exactly what he was doing when he committed the crime," Carter said.

He was also ordered to pay $7,500 to a state victim's restitution fund.

Jurors found Kim guilty in August of stabbing his 52-year-old girlfriend, Susan Kim, to death on the kitchen floor of her Raymond Avenue home in Glendale in 2007. The same jury later found him to be sane when he stabbed her six times in her upper torso.

Deputy Dist. Atty. Carolina Lugo told Carter during the hearing that Susan Kim's daughter, Jane Moon, intended to attend the sentencing, but "was noticeably shaken" Thursday morning.

"She could not bear to come here and see the defendant again," Lugo said.

Soo Duk Kim was arrested in a Koreatown motel a day after his girlfriend was found dead.

At the same motel, Glendale police detectives found a bag containing bloodied clothes belonging to Soo Duk Kim inside a trash bin, officials said.

He later admitted to Glendale detectives that he killed Susan Kim, officials said.

A psychologist testified during his trial that Soo Duk Kim had heard a voice that told him to kill the devil and then himself moments before the stabbing. During the trial, his attorney, James Bisnow, contended that his client suffered from "schizoaffective disorder bipolar-type."

Speaking through a Korean interpreter before the sentencing, Soo Duk Kim's older sister made a tearful plea for Carter to punish her and her family for ignoring her brother's mental illness. She said he stabbed her in the arm during a past argument, but never reported it.

"Please punish us in place of my brother," she said. "I will be willing to accept the punishment please."

In handing down the sentence, Carter denied Bisnow's requests to dismiss the case and send his client to a mental institution.

"He never wanted to kill her, and the minute he did it, he regretted it; he was remorseful, and he tried to commit suicide," Bisnow said, adding that he had already filed a motion to appeal the verdict.

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