Wife-murder suspect fails polygraph

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Wife-murder suspect fails polygraph

The investigation of a doctor suspected of killing his eight-month pregnant wife entered a new phase as police disclosed that the suspect allegedly lied during a polygraph test.

According to investigators at Mapo District Police Station, the suspect, who is surnamed Baek and works as an intern at one of the nation’s top hospitals, denied killing his wife, beating her or quarreling with her, and the polygraph detected that he was lying.

He was also asked whether he and his wife were “in a good relationship.” Baek, 32, allegedly answered yes and again failed the polygraph, investigators said.

Lim Tae-wan, Baek’s attorney, rejected the alleged results of the test.

“A lie detector has no legal force because he answered questioned in a tense mood,” Lim said.

According to police, Baek reported to police on Jan. 14 at around 5 p.m. that he discovered his wife dead in the couple’s bathtub. During questioning, he told investigators he assumed his wife slipped in the tub. The fetus was also dead.

But an autopsy by the National Institute of Scientific Investigation found on Feb. 1 that the 29-year-old wife had been strangled to death.

Forensic pathologists allegedly found Baek’s DNA under the dead woman’s blood-stained fingernails. Baek continues to deny any guilt, and has suggested another person might have killed his wife.

After examining CCTV records around the couple’s building on Tuesday, police said there’s little chance a third party broke into the house and killed the woman.

Police said CCTV records showed Baek left home at 6:47 a.m. on Jan. 14 and returned home at 5:05 p.m. and there were no suspicious outsiders entering the building in between.

“The wife didn’t eat much and she even had therapy for an eating disorder,” Baek’s attorney said.

“If she slipped in the tub, she may not have had the strength to protect herself from the fall,” Lim said.

Mapo police will seek a warrant to arrest the man again after wrapping up its investigation.

“We’ve received tips from [neighbors and families] that the couple quarreled over moving to another apartment and we’re investigating the matter,” an investigator at the Mapo Police Station said.

On Feb. 3, police sought a warrant to arrest the husband on charges of murder, but were rejected by a local court the following day.

The Seoul Western District Court explained it turned down the request because Baek’s guilt wasn’t obvious and “chances are unlikely that the man will flee or destroy evidence.”

Legal experts warned that the police need to find more evidence because the Supreme Court doesn’t recognize lie detector tests.

Police and prosecutors, however, argue that most suspects who fail polygraph tests are eventually convicted in court.


By Shim Seo-hyun, Kim Mi-ju [mijukim@joongang.co.kr]

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