Melbourne teen’s fight before death
LAA Chol struggled against two teens during the last moments of her life before a knife was produced and a single "underarm" thrust punctured her heart, a court has heard.
A Victorian children's court today heard graphic new details of the attack that ended the 19-year-old's life inside a Melbourne high-rise rental apartment on the 56th floor of the EQ Tower on July 21 last year.
The court heard Ms Chol argued with two teens who refused to leave a party at the premises. She believed her phone had been stolen and confronted the teens when a violent struggle ensued.
The 17-year-old charged with Ms Chol's murder - who cannot be named - allegedly pulled a knife from his pocket and swung it from his hip into the victim's chest.
She did not immediately go down and continued to fight back. Later, her friends thought she was having an asthma attack but she died at the apartment before paramedics arrived.
The incident was recorded on CCTV but the vision does not clearly show the moment Ms Chol was stabbed.
Ms Chol's mother walked from the courtroom in tears today as the details of her daughter's death were read out.
Sam Norton, the lawyer for the accused, argued in court today that while his client's actions constituted a "tragedy", there was insufficient evidence to prove he wanted to kill Ms Chol.
"The stab wound happens in a very swift, senseless matter," Mr Norton said.
"There's no question it's deliberate but it's not in a swinging, side-arm motion. It is inconsistent with aiming for the upper chest."
But the magistrate deemed the boy's intent at the time was a matter for a jury to determine. She committed him to stand trial and he will face a Supreme Court directions hearing on March 13.
The court today heard Ms Chol was "held for a period of time" and was "struggling against an attack on her" but that the teen accused of her murder did not want to inflict further damage after he stabbed her.
"There is that use of the knife on that one occasion … he does not seek to land any other blows," Mr Norton said.
"It points away from an intention to inflict really serious injury."
But the magistrate said the CCTV footage, which shows the lead-up to the fight and parts of the struggle, does not help the accused.
"There was a fight going on," she said. "There appears to have been ill feeling. She's saying to them 'Get out' and there was at the very least a dispute. The deceased is saying 'Who's got my phone?'
"There's a kick (the accused) delivers after the stabbing. It may be that he thinks 'I've done a good enough job with the stabbing'. He backs off after he stabs her."
The stab wound pierced Ms Chol's right ventricle at a depth of 8.5cm but Mr Norton argued his client only used "moderate" force.
She said there was significant post-offence conduct after Ms Chol's death, including the accused allegedly discarding a bloodstained pair of jeans.
Prosecutors said Ms Chol's accused killer delivered a "straightforward action" with the knife, rather than an underarm action.
"Plunging a knife into the torso with force was intended to cause serious injury," a lawyer said.
"The knife goes into the victim where (the accused) has intended it to go."
Outside court, Ms Chol's father Daniel said he was heartbroken but would let the courts decide the best course of action. He said his family was struggling eight months after losing his oldest daughter.
"How do I survive?" he said. "How do my family survive? How does my community survive?
"I can't get another Laa. She was doing good for Australia. Now they took (her), they threw (her) in the rubbish."
The teen accused of the murder sat metres from more than 15 members of the South Sudanese community who were in attendance to support Ms Chol's family.
He looked around the room and held his head in his hands when Ms Chol's mother stood and walked from the courtroom.
He spoke briefly when asked to enter a plea.
"Not guilty to murder," he said. "Guilty to manslaughter."
Prosecutors rejected an offer in November for the teen to plead guilty to manslaughter. He will go before a jury after next Wednesday's directions hearing inside the Victorian Supreme Court.