January 15, 2008 in City

Evidence begins to paint grim picture of crime scene

By The Spokesman-Review
The Spokesman-Review photo

(Full-size photo)

In a prelude to the bloody story to come, a Spokane County sheriff’s deputy spent hours Monday opening bland beige evidence bags sealed with red tape taken from the Mt. Spokane home in December 2006 where 19-year-old Bryan P. Kim is accused of murdering his parents.

The artifacts of the last day of Richard and Terri Kim’s lives – their credit cards, his wallet, her shoes – were slowly introduced into evidence.

Out of one bag came a large hunter’s knife that Kim allegedly used to stab his 47-year-old father five times as he came home from work. Out of another: a bunch of Zip ties that Kim is accused of using to tightly cinch around his 46-year-old mother’s neck, strangling her in the family garage. Another bag bulged with Kim’s black trench coat, found in the washing machine after the killings.

The long knife and trench coat were paraded in front of the jury by Sgt. Robert Sherar, the Spokane County sheriff’s deputy in charge of the crime scene.

Sherar also read a short note found in the home: a written agreement between Kim and his mother for September 2006 in which he promised to take his English exam.

Grim photographs came next. They showed the Kims’ bodies, their heads covered with trash bags, heaped like garbage in the front end of the family’s Bobcat, which the state says was driven to the front of the house to pick up the father’s body and to the garage to retrieve the mother.

Kim, who had spent most of the day taking notes, listening intently to witnesses and occasionally biting his nails, appeared to look away as the photos of his parents’ corpses were shown on courtroom video monitors.

Another photo showed Terri Kim’s shoes in the garage next to her yellow Volkswagen bug.

Jack Driscoll, Spokane County’s chief criminal prosecutor, presented the first day of the state’s case. He called several colleagues of high school math teacher Terri Kim who said she’d confided in them the difficulties she was having with her son, who has a bipolar disorder.

Gwen Marie Harris, the assistant principal at Rogers High School where Kim worked, said Kim talked to her about her son’s problems. When Kim was late one day, “she told me she had to make sure Bryan took his meds,” Harris said.

On Dec. 4, 2006, a day before her death, Kim told Harris they’d given Bryan an ultimatum: If he didn’t take his medication and go to school, he’d have to move out by the end of the month.

Kim worked late on Dec. 5, attending a training session for math teachers. On Dec. 6, when she didn’t show up for work, “I became very concerned. I felt there must be something wrong,” Harris said.

Mark S. Robinson, marketing manager at the health care company where Richard Kim worked as a respiratory therapist supervisor, told the jury how he and branch manager Cal Buhl headed up to the Kims’ home after Richard also failed to come to work Dec. 6. They peered inside the house and saw something unusual – bowls and a sponge in the foyer that looked like someone was trying to clean up some dark red stains.

When they found a bloody cell phone in the snow near the driveway, they tried to call 911, Robinson said. Since reception was spotty at the remote home, Buhl used his OnStar service instead. Sheriff’s deputies arrived shortly afterward and declared the area a crime scene.

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