Jurors found a Glendale man guilty of murder for a second time on Monday after he appealed his original conviction for stabbing his girlfriend to death.
The jury convicted Soo Duk Kim, 51 — who also goes by Brandon Kim — of second-degree murder for stabbing Susan Kim, who was discovered dead on the kitchen floor of her Raymond Avenue home in December 2007, according to a Los Angeles County Superior Court official.
The latest trial was granted after a 9th Circuit Court of Appeals panel reversed the original jury's second-degree murder decision.
Soo Duk Kim was originally convicted and sentenced to 16 years to life in prison for his girlfriend's death in 2010, but his attorneys appealed the decision, arguing jurors had not been instructed that manslaughter was an option.
The appellate panel agreed, ruling that trial Judge Michael Carter "erred prejudicially" when he failed to tell the jury that the lesser offense included voluntary manslaughter, according to U.S. District Court records.
The panel concluded that evidence presented in the case could have satisfied tests for a voluntary manslaughter ruling based on heat of passion or a sudden quarrel between the couple.
Moments before Susan Kim was killed, she and Soo Duk Kim were involved in a heated debate after she discovered him using marijuana.
During the argument, she allegedly took away his key and told him to return to Korea. According to her daughter, he appeared to be upset as he left their home.
Susan Kim's daughter later returned to find her mother lying in a pool of blood with a towel over her face.
Soo Duk Kim was arrested near a Koreatown motel a day after Susan Kim was found dead.
County prosecutor Tamu Usher said she was glad the second jury rejected the voluntary manslaughter option.
"I don't think it was appropriate in this case to reduce his culpability in any way," she said.
Usher added that Susan Kim's daughter — who had to testify again — was "impressively strong" on the stand.
Soo Duk Kim is scheduled to be sentenced Aug. 22.