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Murder trial – Jun 4: Gay murder trial begins

Victim found dead in his bathtub with cord around his neck, court hears

The trial of a Port Coquitlam man charged with the murder of a man he met through an internet dating service began in BC Supreme Court in New Westminster Jun 2.

Kenneth Jensen pleaded not guilty to second-degree murder in connection with the death of George Ammon Kong, who was found dead in his apartment Jan 23, 2007 after failing to show up at work for three days.

At the trial’s outset, Jensen’s lawyer, Philip Riddell, requested a voir dire on statements his client allegedly made to police. A “voir dire” is a hearing, separate from the main trial, to determine the admissibility of evidence.

Justice Mary Humphries initially banned publication of evidence heard in the voir dire, but later lifted the publication ban indicating that Supreme Court hearings are supposed to be transparent.

The identities of three undercover officers remain subject to a publication ban at the request of their counsel Jeffrey Hayes, who says their safety on the job may be compromised if their names are revealed.

The voir dire is expected to last several days as the judge evaluates the admissibility of the statements Jensen allegedly gave police both before and after his arrest. If the judge rules the evidence inadmissible, it won’t be considered at trial.

In his opening remarks in the voir dire, Crown Counsel Rusty Antonuk told the court that police discovered Kong’s body in a bathtub with a hair dryer cord tied in a knot around his neck. He was wearing underwear and socks only.

The bathtub was filled with water and the drain plugged with tissue paper, according to Antonuk, who told the court that there seemed to be evidence of blood in the bathroom as well.

Police also found a blood-like substance on the living room sofa and carpet, he says.

Antonuk told the court that, upon reviewing the call display of a telephone at Kong’s home, police found a phone number from a call made Jan 20, 2007 that led them to Jensen.

Police left a message for Jensen at his workplace asking him to call, says Antonuk.

On Jan 26, 2007, Jensen contacted Sgt Attew of the Integrated Homicide Investigation Team and arranged to meet the next day at a Starbucks.

Sgt Attew, the only witness to take the stand on the first day of the voir dire, told the court he found Jensen waiting outside the Starbucks around 11 am and, along with a second officer, interviewed Jensen on audiotape about his relationship with Kong.

On the audiotape, Jensen says he has no idea why he’s at the Starbucks and is told by Attew that the police are investigating a homicide.

As the interview proceeds, Jensen reveals he met Kong Jan 20 on plentyoffish.com, an online dating site, and arranged to meet at Kong’s home that evening.

Jensen tells the officers he arrived at Kong’s place around 8:30 pm and that he and Kong talked in the living room.

After further questioning from Attew, Jensen reveals that Kong allegedly said he “only gives, not receives.” They eventually had anal sex in Kong’s bedroom, Jensen says on the tape.

At that point in the interview, Attew asks Jensen if he’d prefer to talk somewhere else.

“No, I’m fine,” Jensen answers but reveals he’s a little nervous.

Attew testified that he arranged to meet Jensen again at the Starbucks on Feb 3, at which time he and a second officer arrested him.

Another audio recording made at the time of the arrest in the Starbucks parking lot indicates the second officer informed Jensen that he was being arrested for Kong’s murder and read him his rights, including his right to legal counsel.

In a later video recording that runs for two and half hours, Attew is seen telling Jensen that he is “a decent person” with “a good head on your shoulders.”

Attew also tells Jensen, “I already know you killed him,” but says he wants to understand why.

Jensen, who sat in the defendant’s box in court, alternated between sitting up and leaning forward with his elbows resting on his thighs. He stared straight ahead for most of the day, but at times bowed his head.

At one point on the tape, Jensen tells Attew he didn’t want to kill Kong. “It’s just something that happened,” Jensen says. At another point, he says he wishes he could “take it back, but I can’t.”

Asked how he allegedly killed Kong, Jensen says he choked him from behind and didn’t let go.

Jensen tells police on the tape that Kong bled out of his mouth and blood fell onto the couch and carpet. He says he took Kong into the bathroom and put him in the bathtub.

During Attew’s interrogation, Jensen also reveals that he took several items from Kong’s home including a laptop, a CD player, headphones and a jacket.

He also mentions taking sheets and blankets off the bed, as well as a container of air freshener, saying he wanted to get rid of the things he had touched while there. Jensen says he left the items in different places around town and stuffed the bedding into a dumpster near a school.

“Absolutely,” says Jensen on the video when Attew asks him if he would like to say something to Kong’s family.

“I would ask forgiveness,” says Jensen, adding he would “say how sorry I am.”

Day two of the voir dire opened with Riddell cross-examining Attew on the techniques he used to acquire Jensen’s alleged statements.

Riddell told the court it’s not a question of who did it, but rather what happened on the night Kong died. He indicated that he will try to get the court to reduce his client’s charge to manslaughter.

As Xtra West goes to press, the trial is expected to continue until Jun 13.