Patterson denies charges he murdered student

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Patterson denies charges he murdered student

An American man accused of having stabbed to death a Korean university student in a restaurant bathroom nearly 20 years ago denied the charges against him on Thursday.

Arthur Patterson, 36, was pinpointed as one of the main suspects in the murder of 22-year-old Cho Jung-pil, who was stabbed nine times in the neck and chest in a Burger King restroom on April 3, 1997, in Itaewon, a popular foreigner-friendly district in central Seoul.

Edward Lee, a Korean-American who was at the scene with Patterson at the time of the stabbing, was later convicted for the murder but acquitted of those charges in 1998 by the Supreme Court, which ruled that there was insufficient evidence to conclude that one man had committed the crime.

He was scheduled to serve as a witness in the trial against Patterson but did not attend Thursday’s session at the Seoul Central District Court.

Dressed in a green prison uniform, Patterson arrived in court accompanied by his attorney, Oh Byeong-ju, and nodded to the judging panel before being seated.

More than 100 people were present for the hearing, among them Cho’s parents and Lee’s father.

Thursday’s preparatory session was intended to finalize plans for subsequent legal proceedings and outline the arguments by both sides.

“Given the wounds, the person who stabbed the victim must have been covered with blood,” the prosecution stated. “Patterson was covered in blood all over, including his head and hands, while Lee had blood stains only on his clothes and shoes.”

“Forensic reports concluded that the killer was likely taller than the victim, which would indicate the perpetrator was Lee,” the prosecutor added, “but it’s possible that Patterson, who was smaller than the victim, could have stabbed Cho since the victim was drunk and [using the restroom].”

Patterson’s legal attorney, however, maintained that Lee was the killer, citing the results of a polygraph test.

“It’s a killing without motive,” he continued, “so the killer must have been either mentally unstable or under the influence of drugs. Edward Lee used drugs and even dealt drugs, and his friends testified that Lee even giggled when he said ‘we’ [Lee and Patterson] killed a person, which sounds like something an intoxicated person would say.”

The second preparatory session is scheduled for Oct. 22. The first hearing will be held Nov. 4.

BY KIM BONG-MOON AND BAEK MIN-KYUNG [kim.bongmoon@joongang.co.kr]

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