Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Yoo Young-cheol, South Korea's Brutal Serial Killer

Sentenced to Hang

On November 29, prosecutors demanded the death penalty for Yoo Young-cheol.  As a means of execution, South Korea hangs those condemned to die. They reiterated that Yoo ceased to be a normal member of society when he started his motiveless killing spree, and they reminded the court of Yoo's previous statement that he would have killed 100 more people if he had the chance.  They also noted that during the trial proceedings when the victim's family members were present, Yoo made the statement that his victims "deserved to die." 

Yoo's response for the death penalty request was: "My actions cannot be justified. If we live in a society where people like me can live a good life, there will not be another Yoo Young-cheol.  I am thankful for the prosecutors' request for the death penalty. I will be repenting what I have done until I die." 

On December 13, Yoo was stoic as the verdict was handed down and he stared as the judge read the decision, "With most of the 20 victims being women and the elderly, Yoo's case is a serious crime that has no parallel in the nation's history.''  The Seoul Central District Court affirmed capital punishment for Yoo Young-cheol for 20 of 21 murder charges against him.  "We sentenced him to death, having considered his motive, the method of murder and the shock his killing spree gave to the bereaved families and to the public, even though he felt sorry for the bereaved families of the victims at the end of the trial."

The court acquitted him for the murder of the 24-year old Imoon-dong woman, stating there was a lack of objective evidence except for Yoo's own vague confession, a testimony that Yoo later repeatedly denied.  Another charge of theft at a sauna in Seoul was dropped as the court cited the statements given by witness may be flawed.

The prosecutors objected to the not guilty decision of the Imoon-dong killing.  They reasoned that since Yoo confessed to the murder without interrogation or torture, then it must be true, adding that there were details of the story that only the killer would know.  Senior prosecutor Lee Dong-ho said, "Nobody forced him to say that he had killed the woman in Imoon-dong. We are taking this to court again." 

Countermaneuvers were made.  The prosecution stated it would appeal to a higher court on the Imoon-dong murder case.  The defense attorney of Yoo Young-cheol would appeal the guilty verdicts to the Korean Supreme Court while political machinations in the National Assembly argued the abolition of the death penalty.

Yoo departed the courtroom, clad in a blue prison tunic and escorted by guards. His demeanor was detached and neutral.  He would be the first person to be hanged in South Korea since the mass executions on December 31, 1997, when 23 convicts were put to death.

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