After pleading guilty to killing his ex-wife's boyfriend with an ax,Deuk Ho Kim agreed to be deported to his native Korea. Stay out of the United States and you stay out of prison, he was told.
Nine months later, he's back, facing the prospect of a five-year sentence.
Kim appeared in county Circuit Court Friday for a hearing into charges that he violated the terms of his probation for a January 1991 manslaughter conviction. The hearing was postponed until Nov. 15 to allow his lawyer to investigate the case further.
Leaving the courtroom for the trip back to the county detention center, where he has been held since federal agents and county police arrested him last month, Kim asked to speak to Assistant State's Attorney Cynthia M. Ferris.
"I misunderstand," the man said in broken English, apparently referring to the conditions of his release, before the prosecutor cut him off and told him it was inappropriate for her to speak to him.
Kim, 39, had been charged with first-degree murder in the death of 33-year-old Sung Joo Kim in August 1990.
In a court hearing last January, Ferris said the two men had argued over Sung Joo Kim's failureto financially support Deuk Ho Kim's ex-wife's two children, who live in Korea.
Sung Joo Kim invited Deuk Ho Kim into the house in the8000 block of New Colony Road in Severn, then grabbed an ax and threatened to kill him, the prosecutor said.
Deuk Ho Kim's ex-wife, who lived in the house, ran upstairs and locked herself in a room.
The men argued, but then sat down on the floor and Sung Joo Kim fell asleep.
Deuk Ho Kim then "seized the opportunity" to grab the ax and strike the other man in the neck and torso, killing him, Ferris said.
Kim put the body in two plastic bags and left them in a trash bin in New Jersey, where the body was recovered. Kim turned himself into Baltimore County police two days later.
Speaking through an interpreter at the January hearing, Kim said, "I admit I did kill a man, but . . . he tried to kill me first."
After Kim pleaded guilty to manslaughter, Judge H. Chester Goudy Jr. sentenced him to five years in prison.
Kim already had been in the County Detention Center five months, and the balance of the sentence was suspended when Kim was deported last March.
But a tip from an anonymous caller led authorities to arrest Kim last month in a parking lot at a hotel near Baltimore-Washington International Airport, said Russ Spruance, a special agent with the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service.
Spruance said the caller said Kim, who had lived in Upper Darby, Pa., wason his way to New Jersey.
In Friday's hearing, Assistant Public Defender Kendel L. Sibiski asked for a postponement to allow her to interview a witness who may corroborate Kim's version of how he came tobe back in the United States.
Goudy agreed to a postponement overthe objection of Ferris, who said Kim's reasons were irrelevant.
The judge said Kim's story may be relevant.
"The point is he was supposed to stay out of the country," Goudy said. "(But) if someone forced him back into the country with a shoehorn, that's a different story."
Spruance said he is not sure how or when Kim returned to thecountry, but he said he probably entered California through Mexico.
Agent Paul Welkie of the INS said he believes Kim understands English better than he lets on. "I've spoken to him plenty of times," he said.