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Accused murderer changes plea to guilty

Ongoing murder trial coverage: updated Jun 11

In an unexpected twist of events, accused murderer Ken Jensen who initially pleaded not guilty in connection with the death of George Ammon Kong pled guilty to second degree murder today in BC Supreme Court in New Westminster.

The trial was expected to resume yesterday with submissions from Jensen’s lawyer Philip Riddell. But Riddell informed the court at that time that he was not ready to proceed as he had received instructions from his client that caused him great concern, and wanted the rest of the day to consider the next steps. Riddell apologized to the court for the delay but did not elaborate further.

When the trial resumed today, Riddell rose to his feet to say that his client wanted to change his plea.

“Guilty,” Jensen said when the court clerk asked him how he wished to plea after re-reading the indictment of second-degree murder against him.

Riddell also read a prepared statement from Jensen. In that statement, Jensen said he was sorry for what happened to Kong. He also said he was not truthful to police when he told them that he had gone to Kong’s residence for consensual sex. Rather, Jensen said in the statement, he made the online connection with Kong in order to rob and extort him — something Jensen said he had done to other people before, using the same means.

Jensen further claimed in his statement that when he met up with Kong and told him why he was at his condo, Kong said he would call the police. A fight ensued, Jensen indicated, and he got Kong in a chokehold. He and Kong fell onto the couch, Jensen stated, and he held Kong in the choke hold for about a minute, and let go when he saw blood coming out of Kong’s mouth. Jensen said he dragged Kong into the bathroom on blankets he took from the bedroom. He wrapped a hair dryer cord around Kong’s neck and put him in the bathtub, which he plugged with tissue paper and ran the water.

Jensen said he used some duffle bags he found to carry the blankets away, and made several trips back and forth to Kong’s apartment to take away a number of items including music devices.

Crown counsel Rusty Antonuk said Jensen’s new plea and statement came as a surprise. After taking a break to reflect on the morning’s revelations, Antonuk told Justice Mary Humphries that a psychiatric assessment on Jensen “should be ordered” to be used during sentencing.

He said the discrepancies between the statement Jensen gave to police at the time of his arrest and the one Riddell read out in court today on behalf of his client, as well as the lack of emotion Jensen displayed throughout the trial thus far warrant such an assessment.

Antonuk also said he would like Jensen’s most recent statement, which describes a motive for his actions in January 2007, to be considered during sentencing.

After consulting briefly with his client, Riddell said Jensen does not consent to a psychiatric evaluation and further argued that the court does not have the authority to ask for such an evaluation. He also noted that Justice Humphries has had the opportunity to observe Jensen over the now eight-day-old trial, and suggested that his client has not shown signs of having a disorder.

As for the statement he read on Jensen’s behalf, Riddell said the statement was not made under oath, is not contested and is not relevant. He added that the evidence Humphries already has in hand, including the letter of apology and the statement Jensen gave to Sgt Dave Attew after his arrest, were sufficient.

Justice Humphries said what happened today came as no surprise to her, indicating that Jensen had displayed a sense of responsibility and remorse.

Crown co-counsel Cathie Grant also read out a victim impact statement made by Kong’s sister, Joan Peters.

In that statement, Peters said she and her brother used to communicate on a daily basis and since his death in January 2007, she has felt “a deep sense of loss.” She said she has also experienced feelings of guilt because she was not there to comfort him through the trauma and torment he suffered. She added that she has flashbacks about her brother lying for days in his apartment unattended. Peters also revealed that she has been short-tempered with family, does not receive visitors as she used to, and has not been able to return to work or carry on with her other life duties as before.

She said she is thankful that Jensen admitted the truth “at last” a statement she added after hearing Jensen’s guilty plea and latest statement.

Justice Humphries said she will rule tomorrow on whether to order a psychiatric report on Jensen and whether she’ll include Jensen’s most recent statement as part of sentencing.