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Convict Seeks Retrial After Serial Killer's Confession

2019/10/13 | Permalink | Source

Lee Chun-jae (center) in a photo from his high-school yearbook

A man who served 20 years in jail for a murder recently confessed to by Hwaseong serial killer Lee Chun-jae is seeking a retrial to clear his name.

The 52-year-old identified as Yoon was convicted of what prosecutors at the time claimed was a copycat killing of the serial murders that shook the town in the 1980s. 

But it has now emerged that Yoon was left without a legal defense when his court-appointed lawyer failed to show up at his sentencing hearing. Despite Lee's confession, Yoon faces an uphill struggle even if a miscarriage of justice occurred since no records remain of the investigation that implicated him.

Yoon told reporters at his home in Cheongju, North Chungcheong Province, "After consulting with my family, I intend to seek a retrial and appoint an attorney. Everyone accused me of being a murderer 30 years ago. I have the utmost distrust of the police and press".

"Nobody was there to help me back then and I wonder why everyone's bothering me now?" he added. He initially confessed to the murder during his first trial but recanted his confession, which he said had been coerced under torture, after being given a life sentence.

A retrial is possible only if clear evidence is uncovered proving a criminal's innocence. But it is unclear whether Lee is telling the truth that he committed the murder Yoon was convicted for. A police spokesman claimed Lee confessed to "circumstantial evidence such as living close to the victim". Lee lived one house away from the victim, and Yoon lived nearby.

Police entered into evidence a sample of Lee's pubic hair that they claimed to have discovered at the crime scene, but his blood type is different from what the police believed at the time, and police did not proceed with a radioactive isotope test, which was considered too expensive.

The investigation records were destroyed some time between 2011 and 2013 under a rule that permits it once 20 years have passed since the crime.

Police, meanwhile, have conducted their 13th interview with Lee, even though the statute of limitations on the serial murders has expired and he can no longer be convicted. Lee already serves a life sentence for the rape and murder of his sister-in-law. "There were more unsolved murders during the same period in Suwon and Cheongju than the 14 murders Lee confessed to committing".

Sources said Lee spent some interviews simply babbling about his favorite food and other trivial matters. He has apparently made no further comments about the 14 murders and around 30 rapes he confessed to.

The story was adapted for the movie "Memories of Murder".

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