Stephanie Ching and Douglas Lomas, a couple who were accused of dismembering the woman’s 73-year-old father in Outer Mission, San Francisco, have taken a plea bargain.
The 36-year-old mother of two pleaded guilty in late September to felony charges of being an accessory after the fact and for desecrating the remains of her father, Benedict Ching, according to SF Examiner.
Stephanie’s three-year jail sentence is set to be suspended while serving three-year probation, the Public Defender’s Office said.
Her 45-year-old husband also pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter and may face six years in prison. China and Lomas are expected to be sentenced on Oct. 15.
The gruesome incident happened in May 2019. Authorities discovered the elderly man’s chopped up remains inside a freezer during a house visit after he failed to show up for work.
Benedict had been living alone until his daughter and her husband, along with their two children, moved in with him, the elderly man’s neighbors said.
The couple reportedly boarded a flight to China with their children the morning of the discovery of the body. They were immediately arrested after landing in Beijing and were flown to a federal detention center in Virginia with the help of U.S. Homeland Security Investigations officials.
NEW: @LoudounSheriff VA mugshots of Stephanie Ching & husband Douglas Lomas, tracked down to China & arrested after being ID’d by @SFPD as suspects in the killing & dismemberment of her 73yo father Benedict Ching pic.twitter.com/WKsVobnz80
— Henry K. Lee (@henrykleeKTVU) May 30, 2019
Lomas and Ching were charged with murder at the time. Assistant District Attorney Omid Talai argued they “exhibited no remorse or concern for the death of the victim, and hastily fled to China as family members began to question the victim’s whereabouts.”
The motive for the crime was reportedly unclear based on the gathered evidence. But Deputy Public Defender Ilona Solomon, the lawyer representing Lomas, said her client only acted in self-defense after being allegedly attacked by the elderly man.
“This was a terrible set of circumstances for a very complicated family,” Solomon said. “Mr. Lomas was acting in self-defense following an attack by his father-in-law, who later died. The DA could not prove that Mr. Lomas committed murder because there was zero evidence of malice.”
The Medical Examiner’s Office also could not determine the cause of death.
The victim was made aware of the negotiated sentences, according to Alex Bastian, a spokesperson for the District Attorney’s Office.
Feature Image via Loudoun Co. Sheriff