Busan child rapist gets life, taken off death row

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Busan child rapist gets life, taken off death row

BUSAN - An appellate court yesterday overturned a lower court’s death sentence for a 33-year-old child rapist and sentenced him to life imprisonment.

Kim Kil-tae, a repeat sex offender, was given the death sentence by a district court in June for raping and killing a 13-year-old girl in the southern port city of Busan in late February. He appealed, claiming that he has no memory of the crime.

“A death sentence should be given only in circumstances in which a criminal cannot coexist with the values of the society or the state, such as when he or she brutally and intentionally kills people randomly,” the Busan District Appellate Court said.

The court noted that extensive media exposure and public anger at the defendant may have affected the earlier ruling that sentenced him to the maximum punishment allowed by law.

Although Kim committed an “unforgivable crime” and needs to be permanently separated from society, capital punishment should be limited in a civil society, the court said, adding, “There is a huge difference between the death sentence and a life sentence.”

The court also said psychological tests may not always be accurate, referring to conflicting test results about Kim’s mental state.

Kim was diagnosed with antisocial behavior in a psychological test conducted shortly after his arrest, but a second test during an appeals court hearing showed signs of a delusional disorder and epilepsy, raising possibilities that his punishment might be reduced. Further tests showed that Kim had no symptoms that could exonerate him.

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