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Centreville Wife Stabbed 31 Times

Domestic murder case proceeds to circuit court.

Sushi chef Sang Byung Kim held two knives to his stomach when police responded to a 911 call from his Centreville home in the 13600 block of Sweet Woodruff Lane on July 4.

"People around the block were screaming," testified Joseph Clerkin, of the Fairfax County Police. "The defendant was standing in the doorway, with two knives pointed to his stomach, yelling something in Korean."

Police found Kim's wife, Hae Ja Lee, 43, lying dead in a large amount of blood on the kitchen floor of their Fair Crest home. Hae Ja Lee suffered 31 stab wounds and 15 additional abrasions and lacerations, according to Ian M. Rodway, deputy commonwealth's attorney.

Two bowls of freshly prepared food, untouched, remained on the counter, said David Allen, homicide detective.

Three bloody knives were removed from the scene, Allen testified.

<b>SANG BYUNG KIM,</b> 46, was charged with the murder of his wife at 20 minutes past noon on Independence Day.

Kim's preliminary hearing — one of the initial steps before a felony case proceeds to Fairfax County Circuit Court — lasted approximately one hour on Wednesday, Sept. 26 in Fairfax County Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court.

Chief Judge Gayle B. Carr certified Kim's murder case to Circuit Court, where a Fairfax grand jury is expected to formally indict him later this month.

A preliminary hearing calls for the prosecution to present just enough evidence for a judge to allow the case to move forward, but the defense does not present its case at that time.

Defense attorney Eric Clingan argued that the case should proceed to Fairfax County Circuit Court as a manslaughter case, not a murder case.

"Heat of passion is something this court should consider," he said.

<b>THE VICTIM</b> was having a documented extra-marital affair, Clingan said, and the couple had an argument witnessed by two young siblings, niece and nephew of the victim, who were in the house watching television when Hae Ja Lee was stabbed.

The girl testified that her aunt "was screaming, 'Sorry,' for some reason," before she was stabbed.

"I was really scared so I grabbed my brother and ran out of the house," she said.

Judge Carr did not allow the younger brother to testify last Wednesday.

"Haven't they seen enough trauma?" she said.