Appeal dismissed for British Columbia man who used ‘automatism’ defense in karaoke club murder

A man who claimed to be in a state of “automatism” when he killed a patron at a BC karaoke bar has lost an appeal of his conviction for second-degree murder.

Lloyd Jay So argued that he was automatist (meaning his consciousness was impaired and he had no control over his actions) when he stabbed Joong Kwan Kim to death on September 18, 2017, but the trial judge rejected that defense.

Instead, Judge Janice Dillon found So stabbed the victim in a “fit of rage and humiliation” after losing a fistfight he instigated after getting drunk at the Burnaby karaoke establishment.

“He ran to the kitchen, grabbed a knife that was on the counter and returned to the bedroom,” Dillon wrote in his 2021 sentencing. “He stabbed the victim and then followed her out of the room, continuing to stab her while screaming ‘die.’ and then left the victim in a pool of blood near the entrance of the bar.”

The judge sentenced So to life in prison without parole for 10 years.

Grounds for appeal

So he appealed his second-degree murder conviction on several grounds, including that Dillon did not adequately consider all of the evidence related to his automatism defense.

The killer said the judge “misinterpreted key aspects” of the opinion provided by a forensic psychiatrist, identified only as Dr. Tomita, who postulated that So may have been in a dissociative state at the time of the stabbing, during which his actions they would have been involuntary.

Tomita came to that conclusion, in part, because So suffered one or more blows to the head during the fight, which the psychiatrist suggested could have caused a concussion.

But Dillon favored the opinion of a different psychiatrist, Dr. Lacroix, who believed So was capable of making conscious, voluntary decisions, despite his level of intoxication.

A three-judge panel of the British Columbia Court of Appeal found no errors in Dillon’s reasoning and noted, as the trial judge had, that Tomita’s conclusions were influenced by the fact that So had not been of the all honest with him.

Need for “accuracy and truthfulness”

The court heard So failed to disclose a previous road rage incident that led to him receiving a driving ban, downplayed the amount of alcohol he consumed the night he killed Kim and omitted the fact that he started the fight that preceded it. to stabbing.

“From a jurisprudential perspective, the law recognizes that automatism is easily feigned and, in the absence of evidence establishing a documented history of automatistic-type dissociative states, expert evidence will often depend on the accuracy and veracity of the account of the related events with the expert for the defendant,” wrote Judge Gregory James Fitch in the appeal decision.

So also suggested that Dillon had not considered all available evidence in determining whether she had murderous intent, but the panel noted that the trial judge “reminded herself” on “no less than nine occasions” that she had to do so before weigh whether the Crown had intention proven beyond a reasonable doubt.

“Reading the ruling as a whole, I have no difficulty understanding why the judge decided as he did,” Fitch wrote.

“I would dismiss the appeal against the conviction.”

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