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Bizarre Yoga Ball Murder Case Reaches Its End

Khaw Kim-sun is found guilty in deaths of wife, daughter
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 19, 2018 12:27 PM CDT
Bizarre Yoga Ball Murder Case Reaches Its End
This May 22, 2015, image from video provided by Now TV shows a yellow mini cooper where the suspect's wife and daughter were found unconscious in Hong Kong.   (Now TV via AP)

(Newser) – Three years after anesthesiology professor Dr. Khaw Kim-sun's wife and 16-year-old daughter were found unresponsive in a Mini Cooper in Hong Kong, Khaw has been convicted of their murders and was on Wednesday sentenced to life in prison. The case received international attention due to its bizarre mechanics: The women succumbed to carbon monoxide poisoning, and a deflated yoga ball—one believed to have held the gas—found in the trunk was pinpointed as the murder weapon.

  • The New York Times reports Khaw's lawyer argued that his daughter, Lily Li-ling Khaw, used the ball to commit suicide. It reports Gerard McCoy claimed the intense pressure Khaw, 53, put on her to succeed academically led the teen to use the ball, whose lethal nature she had been warned about, to take her life. The South China Morning Post reports McCoy offered a different possible explanation in his closing remarks, saying it was possible she used it to kill bugs, which frightened her, without understanding just how potent the gas was.

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  • As for why the balls were filled with the gas in the first place, Khaw had been studying the impact of carbon monoxide on rabbits and says he brought the ball home to take care of a rodent problem. The Morning Post reports prosecutors argued Khaw designed the experiment to provide himself with a cover story that would allow him to obtain the gas. It notes their case was a circumstantial one, as there were no witnesses who saw who put the ball in the trunk and when.
  • As for motive, the Morning Post reports prosecutor Andrew Bruce didn't build his case around a love triangle, but he did reference it frequently: Khaw and wife Wong Siew-fing, 47, were described as having been estranged for years though they still co-habitated. Khaw had been seeing Shara Lee, a grad student, and was said to have traveled abroad with her after the May 22, 2015, deaths.
  • The Times reports High Court judge Mrs. Judianna Barnes Wai-ling noted that as a result of Wong's death, Khaw was poised to inherit property they jointly held. "It is shocking that a highly educated and successful man would conjure up such a calculated method to get rid of his wife," she said.
  • The jury deliberated for nearly 7 hours before reaching its unanimous decision. The Straits Times reports that upon hearing it, Khaw faced his three surviving children, who were crying, and shook his head "as if to say he did not do it."
(Read more murder stories.)

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