After grisly dismemberment of father, San Francisco woman avoids more jail time
A San Francisco woman accused of dismembering her father’s body struck a plea deal Tuesday in order to avoid more jail time.
Stephanie Ching, 36, pleaded guilty to two charges in connection with the death of Benedict Ching, 73, including desecration of human remains, according to the San Francisco district attorney’s office.
The elder Ching’s body parts, including his severed head, were found inside his Ingleside home in May 2019.
In exchange for her guilty plea, Stephanie Ching received a suspended sentence of three years in prison and a one-year jail sentence. She was credited with time served for 17 months already spent in jail and will reportedly go free.
Her husband, Douglas Lomas, 45, was sentenced to six years in prison after pleading guilty to voluntary manslaughter.
The couple were not charged with murder in large part because the body’s condition made it impossible for the medical examiner’s office to determine a definitive cause of death, the D.A.’s office said.
“Unfortunately, there were significant limitations given the evidence in the case,” spokesman Alex Bastian said Wednesday. “There was no scientific cause of death that the medical examiner could determine, there was no motive, and it was unclear what acts each individual defendant may have been culpable for or may have committed.”
Benedict Ching was first reported missing by a co-worker when he did not show up for work on May 18, 2019. When police conducted a wellness check at his home two days later, they discovered his body parts in the refrigerator, along with a circular saw in the bathtub and “unknown biological matter” in the toilet bowl, court documents show. Plastic sheeting, duct tape, latex gloves and other tools were also found in the home.
Ching had been living alone until his daughter and Lomas moved into his home with their two children in February, a few months prior to his death. The couple fled to China on May 20, 2019, along with their children, but were arrested by Homeland Security investigators in connection with the death and extradited to the U.S. after landing in Beijing.
The San Francisco Chronicle reports that during Tuesday’s sentencing, Superior Court Judge Linda Colfax said that the wounds on Ching’s body were consistent with dismemberment but were not necessarily the cause of his death and that natural causes could not be ruled out.
Colfax also referenced a possible history of abuse by Ching toward his daughter and noted that he may have been the “initiator or aggressor” in the case.
Ching’s family was divided over the outcome of the case, according to the Chronicle, and emotions ran high at the hearing. Some members of the family did not want the case to proceed to trial, while others objected to the plea agreement Stephanie Ching received.
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