October 17, 2000

Edmund Ko '96 Sentenced to Life

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Two and a half years after being charged with the murder of his former girlfriend, Edmund Ko ’96 was sentenced yesterday to life in prison.

Ko, convicted in July of killing Hyeseung Lynda Hong ’94, continues to maintain his innocence and said he will appeal his conviction. His trial lawyer, Jack Litman, contends that Hong’s true killer was most likely Ko’s girlfriend, Claudia Seong, according to the Associated Press.

Ko will not be eligible for parole until he has served at least 25 years in prison.

Hong and Ko met and dated while attending Cornell and ended their relationship three years later on apparently good terms, according to the Associated Press.

On March 20, 1998, Hong, then a third-year Columbia University law student, was found dead by Christopher Lee, her boyfriend at the time.

Lee broke into Hong’s Morningside Heights apartment after trying to reach her for several days, and found her unconscious in a pool of blood. He called 911, but the 26-year-old died before emergency paramedics arrived. According to the autopsy report, her throat had been slashed, causing death by external bleeding and air entering her heart.

The next morning, police arrested Ko.

At Ko’s trial, Assistant District Attorney Ann Prunty told the court that the night of the murder, Hong was on the phone with a friend when Ko entered her apartment. Police later found blood-stained clothes belonging to Ko, and another former girlfriend testified that Ko had held her down while Seong and Seong’s younger sister cut up her face with a blade four months before Hong’s murder, according to the Associated Press.

Prosecutors argued that Ko murdered Hong to demonstrate his devotion to Seong, an intensely jealous and insecure woman, according to the Associated Press.

Hong was a top student in corporate law and former co-chair of the Asian Pacific American Law Students Association. She had planned on joining a law firm in June of 1998.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

Archived article by Sun Staff