The California Supreme Court has refused to hear an appeal in the case against a Long Beach man convicted of fatally stabbing his ex-girlfriend, who had obtained a temporary restraining order against him shortly before her death.
Ngounsay 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 he used a knife in the commission of the crime, along with convicting Keo 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, the prosecutor said. She had returned to the home to pick up a note from the doctor of one of the couple’s sons, according to the ruling.
Forensic evidence indicated that the woman 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, police said.
Keo was subsequently taken to a local hospital where he underwent emergency surgery and was booked a day later.
In a Sept. 23 ruling, a three-justice panel from California’s 2nd District Court of Appeal noted that it was “troubled” by a trial judge letting prosecutors use statements that 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.
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.
The California Supreme Court denied the defense’s petition seeking its review of the case Thursday.
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