A Fairfax County judge sentenced a retired Army lieutenant colonel to 40 years in prison Friday for the murder of his wife and daughter last year.
Kenston K. Yi, 50, was found guilty on two counts of first degree murder in July after strangling his daughter with a three-pound dumbbell and beating his wife to death in their Lorton apartment on June 13, 2010.
The sentencing brought out a courtroom full of supporters for Yi, who argued during his trial that he was legally insane at the time of the killings. Yi’s attorney said he suffered from depression and was worried his mental illness would cause him to lose his job and bring shame on the family.
Before Judge David S. Schell issued his sentence, Yi rose in a green Fairfax County Jail jumpsuit and bowed to his supporters, who occupied two rows of the courtroom’s gallery. Many cried quietly.
“It’s a tragedy that could have been prevented, if I had humbled myself and sought professional help,” Yi told Schell.
He went on to say that he took full responsibility for the killing of his wife Hyon and their daughter Joy and regretted that he would not be able to visit their graves.
The prosecution did not call any witnesses during the sentencing hearing, but Commonwealth Attorney Gregory Holt asked the judge to remember Hyon and Joy.
“Both loved and trusted him and expected him to protect them,” Holt said. “On the morning of June 13, 2010, he violated that trust.”
Rev. Moo Kim, who has known Yi for much of his life, took the stand and said Yi had been a role model in the Korean community after he graduated from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point in 1986.
“We couldn’t believe (what happened) because he was a happy family man,” Kim said.