The scene of Karina Duch's murder. Photo courtesy of Ian Wilmott.

A state appellate court panel upheld a Long Beach man’s conviction for fatally stabbing his longtime girlfriend, who had obtained a temporary restraining order against him eight days before her death.

The three-justice panel from California’s 2nd District Court of Appeal noted in its ruling this week that it was “troubled” by the admission of statements that Ngounsay Keo made to a social worker without his attorney present, but that the U.S. and California constitutions do not bar the use of such statements in a criminal case.

In their 33-page ruling, the justices found that it will be up to the legislature to decide whether the law should be expanded to protect out-of-court statements made by a defendant to a social worker.

Keo—who is serving a 19-year-to-life state prison sentence—was convicted in November 2017 of second-degree murder for the April 13, 2016, killing of Karina Duch, who was stabbed 19 times with a kitchen knife.

Jurors also found true an allegation that Keo used a knife in the commission of the crime, along with convicting him of one count of criminal threats against the 40-year-old woman.

Duch—with whom Keo had a 23-year relationship and two children—was found dead in a bedroom the couple had shared in the 1200 block of Stanley Avenue in Long Beach, according to Deputy District Attorney Kelly Kelley.

Duch had moved out of the couple’s home with their children eight days earlier and obtained a temporary restraining order against him, Kelley said. Duch had returned to the home to pick up a note from the doctor of one of the couple’s sons.

Forensic evidence indicated that Duch was stabbed in the living room and then moved to the bedroom after she died, the prosecutor said.

Keo left a suicide note and an envelope with more than $2,500 in cash for the couple’s two sons and stabbed himself once, Kelley said.

The couple’s youngest son walked into the home, saw his father and then ran back to a neighbor’s house where he had been playing, and the neighbor called 911, according to the prosecutor.

The boy was subsequently reunited with family members and his teenage sibling.

When officers responded to the home, Keo refused commands to drop a knife or to let officers into the residence, and officers used “less lethal options” to take him into custody.

Keo was subsequently taken to a local hospital, where he underwent emergency surgery and was booked a day later.