15-year jail term sought for man over girlfriend's death in 'deliberate' car accident - Korea Times
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15-year jail term sought for man over girlfriend's death in 'deliberate' car accident

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Police officers examine the scene of a car accident on Jeju Island, in this Nov. 10, 2019 photo taken by the local police. The driver is suspected of crashing the car deliberately to kill his girlfriend. / Screenshot from SBS
Police officers examine the scene of a car accident on Jeju Island, in this Nov. 10, 2019 photo taken by the local police. The driver is suspected of crashing the car deliberately to kill his girlfriend. / Screenshot from SBS

By Lee Hae-rin

The prosecution has asked a local court to hand down a sentence for a 15-year jail term to a man who "intentionally" caused a car crash on Jeju Island which led to the death of his girlfriend in the passenger seat.

Lawyers representing the man, however, claimed the prosecution lacks sufficient evidence for him to be found guilty of murder.

During a hearing at the Jeju District Court, Monday, the prosecution sought the jail term for the man, 34, alleging willful negligence on his part.

On Sept. 10, 2019, the man was driving a convertible car with the victim, 28, as a passenger, during their trip to the resort island. The man was found to be driving under the influence with a blood alcohol level of 0.118 percent, far above the level that warrants cancellation of a driver's license. The car hopped a curb and rammed into a farming vehicle parked on the side of the road. The woman, who was not wearing a seatbelt, was thrown from the car as the roof of the convertible was open.

She suffered severe head wounds and underwent surgery three times after the accident but remained unconscious until she died on Aug. 23, 2020.

The bereaved family and the prosecution claimed the man caused the accident deliberately because she had refused his demands to end the relationship multiple times. The couple were quarreling over the issue moments before the accident, with their conversation recorded on the victim's phone.

In the audio file, as a seatbelt alert sounded, he asked the victim, "Are you not wearing a seatbelt?" As soon as the victim replied "No," the sound of sudden acceleration is heard which is followed by the victim's scream and a crash seconds later. The speed of the car reached 114 kilometers per hour as it approached impact, according to the prosecution.

"The man accelerated the vehicle suddenly, knowing that the victim was not wearing a seatbelt. He did not take any measures to save the victim's life following the accident either," prosecutors said.

In the recording, the man did not make any vocalizations indicating shock or surprise at the moment of the accident. The victim's family testified in one hearing that he also never showed up at the hospital and the victim's funeral.

However, the man's attorney pleaded not guilty, claiming that the couple was in a serious relationship and that it was unreasonable for him to have premeditated the woman's murder while there was a dash cam in operation in the vehicle.

The man testified that he was highly intoxicated at the time of the accident and does not remember what happened.

The court will hand down its verdict on Dec. 16.


Lee Hae-rin lhr@koreatimes.co.kr


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