A defendant reportedly cried out in denial as a California jury found him guilty of kidnapping, raping and murdering an 81-year-old woman in 2012 last week.
Jonathan Jackson, 36, attacked and dragged El Cerrito resident Sun Yi Kwon into a secluded area in Richmond, where he raped and severely beat her in the early morning hours of Jan. 28, 2012.
Kwon, who was taking a morning walk at the time, died six months later after an episode of pneumonia, which prosecutors argued to have resulted from the attack.
Jackson was linked to the crime in 2016 after an investigation revealed that semen found on the scene contained his DNA.
“Oh, my God. They got it wrong,” Jackson cried out, sobbed and bowed his head as guilty verdicts were read in Department 5 of the A.F. Bray Courthouse on Thursday, according to the East Bay Times.
“This day has been a long time coming; justice was finally served in this case thanks to the hard work of the Richmond Police Department, the patience of the victim’s family and the thoughtfulness of the jury who listened to all of the evidence,” Contra Costa County Deputy District Attorney Aron DeFerrari said. “In the end, the justice system is about shining a light on the truth; today that happened, and that is a good thing.”
During the trial, DeFerrari claimed that Jackson had been drinking at a cousin’s home in Richmond the night before the crime. The 36-year-old then left the next morning “in a rage” after losing a confrontation with his cousin.
Jackson then came across Kwon, who was out on her daily morning walks and took out his frustration on her. He raped and beat her with his fists until he believed she was dead, DeFerrari added.
In his defense, Jackson argued that he was drunk and high on LSD the night before he found Kwon’s partially nude, lifeless body. He then felt a random necrophilic urge to masturbate over her.
“He was quite surprised by what he saw. She appeared to Mr. Jackson to already be dead,” defense lawyer Evan Kuluk told the jury, according to The Mercury News. “What he did was not OK. Mr. Jackson was full of guilt and shame.”
According to Kuluk, it was a “dark point” in his client’s life and there was “no justification” for it. Jackson “let his arousal get the best of him,” he said.
The defense attorney also told the jury that he knew necrophilia was “way out of the mainstream,” but that it is a “real human phenomenon.” He maintained that whoever attacked Kwon did not cause her death.
Kwon, who spent weeks in an induced coma following the attack, survived and stayed at hospice centers in the Bay Area but died nearly six months after the incident. She had pneumonia and was found to have a large tumor in her esophagus.
However, a pathologist could not determine whether the attack contributed to her death. Her official cause of death was undetermined.
The jury reached its verdict after almost a day of deliberation, with each of its 12 members saying “yes” to guilty of first-degree murder.
It is believed that Jackson will be sentenced to life without the possibility of parole. His lawyer, however, plans to file a motion for a new trial.
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