Emotions run high at courtroom
EMOTIONS ran high in the courtroom of Judge Vernon Perez yesterday when the mother of Yun Mo James Ku recounted her and her family’s sufferings due to the loss of her son, who was beaten by Jimmy Chin Song two years ago.
Ku, 27, went into a coma and died six days later after Song punched him during a heated argument outside the Sing-A-Song Café in Harmon in the early morning of June 18, 2011.
“Everyday, I run to open the door, hoping it was my son. When the phone rings, I always wish it was him calling me. After five years you will be released and you will be back to your family and while you are in prison your family can visit you,” the victim’s mother, Young Sook Ku, told her son’s attacker.
“Me, I can only see his pictures. Life is no longer the same for our family. We hardly smile anymore. My daughter will just lock the door because she thinks of her brother. My other son lost his smile; my mother has been taking medicine because she is sad about what had happened to Jimmy. Our family is no longer the same and every day I take Tylenol not because I have [a] serious medical problem, but because of the pain of losing my son,” the teary-eyed Mrs. Ku said at the witness stand.
Song was charged with manslaughter and aggravated assault and was sentenced to 12 years' imprisonment with five years of suspended sentence.
Through his lawyer, Randall Cunliffe, Song filed a motion seeking to lower his sentence.
Song has been in prison for almost two years.
Cunliffe said the crime committed by Song was a reckless kind and not premeditated. The defense said Song had no intention to seriously injure the victim.
He further cited Song’s good behavior in the detention center and his intention to undergo rehabilitation and to further his education to improve himself.
Cunliffe also mentioned that Song’s wife, children, parents and some members of the local Korean community have submitted a letter of support to reconsider the jail term, citing the family’s hardship because of Song’s incarceration.
The courtroom was crowded with the families and friends of the victim and the defendant, all anxious about the outcome of the proceedings.
Sobs filled the courtroom when Song read his letter in the Korean language, apologizing to the mother of the victim and appealing to Judge Perez.
Mrs. Ku said Song’s family never came to her to apologize.
“Whenever I see them in the mall they will just look at me and they never come to say sorry. I want them to apologize to me first, not in the court,” Mrs. Ku said as she pleaded with the court to deny Song’s request for a lesser sentence.
“After five years, he can enjoy his family again. Not me – I will never see my son again until I die,” Mrs. Ku added.
Members of the local Korean community who witnessed the hearing were all reduced to tears when Mrs. Ku spoke to Song in their native language.
Assistant Attorney General David Rivera argued that Song intentionally hit the victim very hard, causing his brain hemorrhage. The prosecutor argued that the court did not commit an error when it rendered the sentence of 12 years' imprisonment with five years suspended.
Rivera went on to say that Song was very fortunate because his family is willing to help and after five years can go back to his relatives and friends.
“For the victim’s mother, the only thing left was the victim’s memory,” Rivera said. “They could never speak to him or touch him. He cannot help the family in their business. He is not here to help his mother. The defense's loss is temporary, whereas the victims’ family’s loss is forever,” he added.
Perez said he carefully reviewed all the submissions in the motion and agreed with the prosecution that there was no error made when the sentencing was first rendered.
“The court does not doubt anything that is said today. I don’t doubt that Mr. Song is sorry and that he is in a greater understanding of what he is, but the court cannot find any particular information that needs to change my original sentence,” Perez said.
“Comparing a life gone to some years of incarceration is easy to make, but this is about the punishment for the defendant’s rehabilitation. The sentence of 12 years with five years suspended is not unduly severe, therefore I will not change the earlier decision and [am] denying the motion,” the judge concluded.
Emotions run high at courtroom