The plot thickens as Gardens by the Bay murder case reveals another aspect of the killing – the lifeless body of Chinese national Cui Yajie remained in the car’s front seat the day after the crime was committed.
Based on the statement of Leslie Khoo Kwee Hock — the alleged killer who is on his 5th day of trial — Ms. Cui’s dead body was seated next to him as he drove the car without direction and feeling confused about what to do. It was only in the afternoon that Khoo decided to destroy her body by fire after strangling her in the front seat of the car.
Blow by blow account
Khoo said that he parked his car in a different spot from his usual parking space at the Orchid Park condominium – with the seat lowered.
“I accidentally done (sic) something wrong. I do not have intention (sic), Your Honour,” said Khoo, who spoke in muffled tones from time to time and who had to be ordered by Judicial Commissioner Audrey Lim on many occasions to speak into the microphone.
The prosecution’s case is that Khoo, who has a previous criminal record for cheating, silenced her to stop her from exposing his deceitful act.
According to Khoo, Ms. Cui was fuming mad at him for spending too much time at his job and wanted to confirm with his superiors if it was true that he was busy with work.
When Ms. Cui got into his car along Joo Koon MRT station, she berated him and hurled curses at him to “die.” All along, he wasn’t talking. After a while, he tried to calm Ms. Cui, who continued to rebuke him and continued cursing him.
Khoo said she hit his arm with something and when he pushed her away, her attacks escalated. “We started to struggle,” he said, as he began weeping. “She shout, I shout, we struggle. I also don’t know what happened, after a while, she don’t (sic) move any more,” he said, as his voice cracked and turned very emotional.
Khoo said he then realised that his hand was on her neck.
He tried to shake her and smacked her chest, in an effort to revive her, but she did not move. He held his fingers in front of his nose to check if she was still breathing. After driving around aimlessly that day and the next morning, he decided to dispose of the body the following day by burning it instead of burying it.
“I can’t bury, I got no strength, so I decide to burn,” said Khoo, adding that he “sent” her ashes into the sea a few days later. “I just want her to rest in peace. I prayed for her.”
In the court room
Two video clips recovered from Khoo’s mobile phone were played in court as the defence sought to show that he had been provoked into killing her.
In one, Ms. Cui was apparently enraged with Khoo asking him why he posted photos of his wife, whom she believed he is already divorced from, but not of her on his Facebook. In the second video, Ms. Cui was being filmed as she was going through her mobile phone. “Did I allow you to take a video of me?” she furiously said.
“Holes” and questions in Khoo’s statements
Khoo’s statements have a number of anomalies. Why was there a video of Cui who was incensed with rage at him? Was it a habit for Khoo to film her every time they had an argument? The second video showed her again being mad at him. Why was that interaction filmed?
Unless Khoo is a video buff of some sort, it is dubious of him to be filming all their activities.
In one of his statements, he said he no longer had “the strength,” so he decided to just burn her instead of dumping her somewhere. Why, is the act of burning a dead person’s body easier to do than carrying it and throwing it away? Aren’t these two acts both time consuming, physically exhausting, and mentally taxing?
Or was burning Cui’s body a forensic counter measure so that it would take a longer time to identify her?
Then he said, “he realised his hands were on her neck.” This is a funny statement from someone who displayed great composure when Cui was hurling curses at him before the struggle.
While the defence panel is making an effort to show that the killing was “provoked” and that it is a clear case of misdirected passion, Khoo’s statements and his actions in court are telling a different story — one of premeditated manslaughter.