Jury finds Northbrook father innocent in the death of his son
Updated: December 18, 2012 7:20PM
NORTHBROOK — The lack of physical evidence connecting Hyungseok Koh to his son’s death in Northbrook, as well as the taping of what police considered his confession to murdering Paul, may have been what set him free.
Koh left Cook County Jail about 2 a.m. Tuesday after being found innocent Wednesday (Dec.17) of all charges during a jury trial in front of Circuit Court Judge Garrett Howard.
Hyungseok Koh was accused of the April 16, 2009, stabbing death of son Paul, 22, in the foyer of their Birch Road home.
Prosecutors contended that Hyungseok murdered his only son, because of his shiftless behavior, while defense attorneys argued that Paul died by his own hand because of depression and other mental health issues.
However, the jury decided the case in an hour and 45 minutes, which included lunch and time to chose a foreman, as well as discussing the facts, said Terri Mascherin of Jenner and Block, who defended Koh.
“When we spoke to the jury after the verdict, not one of the jury even mentioned the confession. They said they decided he was innocent, because there was no physical evidence connecting Mr. Koh to his son’s death,” she added.
“It is quite interesting that in a criminal case where there is a supposed confession, the jury didn’t think it was worth very much and the members were looking for real, hard evidence.”
Northbrook police had video-taped Koh’s interrogation in its entirety, and because of that, the jury could actually watch “how the sausage was made,” Mascherin said. Without the video of the whole custodial interrogation, which the jury saw at trial, a detective taking the stand and testifying in a very matter of fact way that the defendant confessed to the crime could have had a different outcome, she added.
“The interrogation played out in real time, how the language difficulty figured in, how Mr. Koh looked and how he visibly became more ‘decomposed’ as the process went on, made it clear that he was not telling the detective any facts,” Mascherin said. “The detective was depositing facts and telling him ‘We know this is true, because other people are telling us this,’ when that was not true at all. The detective was making it up and it’s his own theory of what happened.”
“I hope that Mr. Koh will be able to regain his normal life and reacquaint himself with his family,” Mascherin added, after three years behind bars. “They are all still grieving over the loss of Paul.”