Jury Convicts Kenston Yi of Double Murder

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Date: 2011-08-03

Jury Convicts Kenston Yi of Double Murder
Lorton man killed wife and daughter.

By Bonnie Hobbs
The Connection

The way Kenston Yi figured it, he and his wife and daughter would all be better off if they were dead. So on June 13, 2010, he killed his family inside their Lorton home and then tried his best to do himself in, too.

However, he didn’t succeed. On Wednesday, July 27, in Fairfax County Circuit Court, a jury found him guilty of two counts of first-degree murder and recommended he receive 20 years in prison for each offense. Defense attorney Andrew Elders had wanted his client found guilty by reason of insanity, but the jurors believed otherwise. After a trial that ran more than a week, they convicted Yi, now 50.

Fairfax County Police rushed to Yi’s home in the 9200 block of Cardinal Forest Lane, June 14, 2010, around 8:20 a.m., after Yi told a chaplain at DeWitt Army Community Hospital that he’d murdered his wife and daughter.

He’d done so, the previous morning, and then spent hours considering how he should take his own life. Homicide Det. Steve Needels testified that, after deciding against hanging himself, Yi ingested 12-13 Ambien, in hopes of overdosing and dying.

At Yi’s home, police officers Mark Gleason and Shaaron Williams first discovered the lifeless body of Yi’s adopted daughter, Joy, a 15-year-old freshman at South County Secondary School, in the dining room. Then they located his wife of 24 years, Hyon “Hannah,” 47, in a bedroom upstairs.

Yi had served 30 years in the Army and retired as a lieutenant colonel. At the time of the murders, he worked for the National Guard Bureau. But Needels said Yi told him he was “very sick,” and wasn’t prepared for an upcoming presentation at work. As a result, Yi — a well-respected member of the Korean community — feared losing his job and no longer being able to provide for his family, and therefore, bringing shame upon them.

“A couple times, he said the devil was inside him,” said the detective. He said Yi told him he wanted to kill himself, but was concerned about leaving his family alone and didn’t want them to suffer.

The morning of the tragedies, said Needels, Yi went downstairs around 9:30-10 a.m., and found his daughter studying with a laptop in the dining room. “He asked her to lay down and relax, and she did, on her back,” testified Needels. “Then he covered her with a blanket and grabbed a dumbbell and placed it on her neck and pressed  down. He put his ear to her chest to check for a heartbeat and did not find one.”

After that, said Needels, Yi carried a 15-pound dumbbell upstairs to where his wife was lying on her side on a mat. “He hit her three times on the back of the head with it,” said the detective. “Then he placed the dumbbell across her neck and pressed down. He also checked her chest for any breathing.”

Despondent, Yi then spent the next 11-13 hours driving around Prince William County in his SUV. Needels said Yi dropped the two, silver dumbbells into the Occoquan River and later showed that spot to the Prince William Dive Team, which recovered them. The next day, he went to the hospital and confessed and was subsequently arrested.

Following Yi’s conviction last week, Judge David Schell set his sentencing for Nov. 4

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