The widows of the Chinese men murdered in a violent hate crime hammer attack in 2019 were angered by the court’s decision to send the suspect to a psychiatric hospital instead of allowing him to face trial this week.
Jennifer Pun, the widow of Tsz Mat Pun, 50, one of the victims of the hammer attack, criticized the American justice system for transferring Arthur Martunovich, 37, to a psychiatric hospital on Thursday, according to New York Daily News.
“I thought the American system would do the job and bring the prisoner to justice,” Pun said through a translator. “He was capable. He was sober when he made the decision to take three lives.”
Martunovich, who was designated by Brooklyn Supreme Court Judge Danny Chun as having a “dangerous mental disorder,” was found “not responsible” for the killing of owner Kheong Ng-Thang, 61, manager Tsz Mat Pun and his nephew and chef Fufai Pun, 34, on Jan. 15, 2019, at the Seaport Buffet in Brooklyn. Tsz Mat Pun and Fufai Pun, the only victim who was pronounced dead at the scene, reportedly immigrated from the same village in Fujian Province, China.
Family members of the victims and community members expressed outrage in August 2021 after the court decided not to charge Martunovich because he was suffering from mental health conditions, NextShark previously reported.
Jennifer Pun and Amy, Fufai Pun’s widow, were reportedly present during the Thursday trial and were seen yelling at the prosecutors following the decision.
“I don’t believe the defendant had that serious of a mental sickness,” Jennifer Pun said. “He was very calm, and he was able to distinguish are you [sic] Asian or Hispanic.”
“Dangerous mental disorder” is a ruling that is the “most serious category” available for a suspect facing charges. FindLaw explained that a person deemed to have a “dangerous mental disorder” “constitutes a physical danger to himself or others.” The Defense of Insanity in New York State determined that the defendant should be placed in a secure facility supervised by the Department of Mental Hygiene and will not be allowed for release or transfer without court approval.
Brooklyn District Attorney spokesman Oren Yaniv said Martunovich would be transported to a locked, maximum-security psychiatric hospital. He also added that the suspect would not be released from confinement for many years, and if he does, this will allow their office to “challenge the determination before a judge.”
“We are confident that he will never again be in a position to perpetrate violence in our community, extend our deepest condolences to the friends and loved ones of the victims and pray that they will find peace,” Yaniv said.
Martunovich, who was evaluated by doctors at Mid-Hudson Forensic Psychiatric Center, will remain in the facility and be re-evaluated after six months.
Edward Mandery, Martunovich’s defense lawyer, said his mental illness evidence was so strong that he is likely to be “confined for the same amount of time as he would have served had he been sent to state prison.”