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A California woman will not have to serve any additional jail time for dismembering her elderly father and stuffing his remains in the refrigerator.
Stephanie Ching, 36, reached a deal with prosecutors that allowed her to plead guilty to lesser charges, including being an accessory after the fact and desecration of human remains in the death of her 73-year-old father Benedict Ching, according to The San Francisco Examiner.
Under the agreement, Ching will be released from jail after receiving credit for time already served. She received a three-year suspended sentence in addition to one year in jail in exchange for the guilty plea, The San Francisco Chronicle reports. Ching was given credit for the 17 months she has already served behind bars.
Her husband, Douglas Lomas, 45, also agreed to plead guilty to voluntary manslaughter and is expected to receive a six-year sentence, according to the District Attorney’s Office.
Authorities discovered Benedict Ching’s dismembered body—including his severed head—after conducting a welfare check on his home on May 20, 2019 after a coworker had reported him missing.
They found his dismembered body parts in a refrigerator and a circular saw in the home’s bathtub, according to court documents obtained by The Los Angeles Times.
Authorities also found plastic sheeting, duct tape and latex gloves in the home.
The same day the body was discovered, Ching, Lomas and the couple’s two children fled the country, flying to China. However, they were arrested by Homeland Security officials after landing in Beijing, and were later extradited back to the United States.
Lomas and Ching were initially charged with murder after showing “no remorse or concern for the death of the victim,” Assistant District Attorney Omid Talai wrote at the time, according to The San Francisco Examiner.
Prosecutors told The Los Angeles Times they were unable to pursue murder charges in the grisly case because of condition of the body made it impossible to determine cause of death.
“Unfortunately, there were significant limitations given the evidence in the case,” spokesman Alex Bastian said. “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.”
Lomas’ attorney, deputy public defender Ilona Solomon, had argued that Lomas had acted in self-defense when Benedict Ching was killed.
“This was a terrible set of circumstances for a very complicated family,” she said in a statement cited by The San Francisco Examiner. “Mr. Lomas was acting in self-defense following an attack by his father-in-law, who later died. The DA could not prove that Mr. Lomas committed murder because there was zero evidence of malice.”
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