See Update Nos. 1 and 2 at the end of this post on the jury finding the wife guilty.
A verdict has been reached in the trial of Catherine Kieu Becker, the Garden Grove wife accused of dosing her husband's tofu dinner, tying his arms and legs to bed posts, slicing off his penis, throwing the member into the garbage disposal and turning it on. Surgeons were unable to reattach it.
City News Service reports the jury reached a decision a short time ago today.
It was up to the jury to decide if the 50-year-old woman was driven insane by growing up in Vietnam during the war and later suffering from an abusive husband or if she calculated what prosecutors deem to be torture with a cool head.
Here is our previous coverage:
UPDATE NO. 1, APRIL 29, 11:55 A.M.: Kieu was convicted today in Orange County Superior Court of torture and aggravated mayhem. More to come . . .
UPDATE NO. 2, APRIL 29, 12:30 P.M.: Kieu faces life in prison at her June 28 sentencing on aggravated mayhem and torture counts stemming from her drugging her estranged husband by lacing his soup with Ambien, tying him up, castrating him and tossing his penis into a garbage disposal.
An eight-woman, four-man jury reached a verdict after about two hours of deliberations, reports City News Service, which adds Kieu showed no emotion when she learned her fate, although her attorney later described her as being "distraught and numb."
"We're obviously disappointed in the result,'' Frank Bittar of the public defender's office told reporters. "We presented overwhelming evidence of her mental impairment and physical sex abuse that finally broke her.''
The news service had Deputy District Attorney John Christl predicting the victim will "be pleased with the verdicts. . . . This caused him a great deal of emotional pain.''
The Garden Grove case had been compared to the one from years ago involving Lorena Bobbitt, who'd driven off with her husband's severed penis before tossing it alongside the road.
Kieu and her 60-year-old husband, identified only as Glen in court because he is the victim of abuse, argued the night of July 11, 2011. At the time of Kieu's arrest, the couple was said to be experiencing marital problems and their spat was over her husband inviting a friend to stay in their Garden Grove home. In court, it was revealed he had contacted a woman he'd previously had a relationship with, infuriating Kieu.
Bittar insisted during the trial his client suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and did not have the required mental state to be convicted. He told jurors Kieu's husband was "hopped on Levitra," "demanded sex all the time" and boned her in ways that left her in pain, despite his knowing she suffered from back problems. The hubby was also accused of having left Kieu bruised, with a black eye and a fat lip at various times.
But Christl insisted Kieu refused to accept her husband's demand for a divorce and finally "took away his manhood'' as punishment. Bittar had said she suffered "a break from reality," but Christl countered she had the presence of mind to make an appointment with a doctor to get a prescription for Ambien, which she put into her husband's dinner to drug him. Even if she suffered from PTSD, the prosecutor noted, so do the physicians who testified during the trial, see people die all the time and still continue to do their jobs.
"She was mutilating his penis as police were coming, and that's an intent,'' said Christl, who also pointed out the defense never produced any dates of the abuse the husband was claimed to have inflicted.
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It was also revealed during the trial that Kieu had hidden listening devices around the house and destroyed a laptop before police arrived in response to her 9-1-1 call in which she told the dispatcher what she had done and that "He deserved it."
The victim's sex life is over, but doctors were able to return his urinary function.
"She murdered me that night,'' he testified during the trial. "The healing process may never be completely finished. My mental state is improving, but it may never be what it was before.''