A South Korean man stalked and killed his former online gaming ally and her family members. Now, he will spend the rest of his life in prison.
Last week Kim Tae-hyun, 25, was sentenced by the Seoul Northern District Court for the triple stabbing deaths of a woman and two of her family members who lived in the residential area of Nowon-gu in northern Seoul. Kim was convicted of murder, theft, harassment, breaking and entering and misusing communications networks.
Kim met the woman he stalked through an online game. However, after she disengaged and broke off all contact with the defendant, he conceived a plan to kill her and her entire family.
Around 5:30 p.m. on March 23, Kim disguised as a delivery man to gain access into the victim’s home. Upon arrival, he accosted the younger sister of his former acquaintance and stabbed her to death. Then, he waited at the residence for the woman he stalked. The woman arrived with her mother and stabbed them to death later in the day.
Prosecutors asked the court for a death sentence to be imposed. They believe the crime was premeditated since the defendant prepared a knife in advance.
“There is no room for consideration of punishment other than a death sentence. Kim premeditated his ruthless murders and showed extreme disregard for human life,” prosecutors said during closing arguments, according to The Korean Herald.
In addition, police uncovered Kim’s online searches a week before the murders for an array of killing methods and surveillance of his victim’s movement and location.
In a rebuttal, Kim claimed the slaying of the former acquaintance’s mother and younger sister was not premeditated. He told the court he had no knowledge of the family structure and accidentally killed the younger sister when he attempted to subdue her.
"The younger sister and the mother were killed ... even though they had nothing to do with the defendant. The crimes show Kim's extreme disregard of human life," said the court, according to The Korean Times.
The defendant’s claim was rejected, and as a result, he was convicted on all counts. However, the court ruled that the case lacked the necessary elements to qualify for the death penalty. The ruling was based on the fact that Kim admitted to most of the charges and also to establish the fairness of sentencing in comparison to other major crimes.
Kim apologized to the victim’s family and the public through the media. He said he felt guilty and ashamed for even being alive. However, it is widely believed his apology was a ploy to avoid the death penalty.
The victim’s family asked the prosecutors to appeal the sentence. They believe a life sentence in prison is too light for someone who destroyed a happy family.