Columbia man admits killing wife, wounding stepdaughter

March 24, 2000|By Del Quentin Wilber | Del Quentin Wilber,SUN STAFF

A Columbia man admitted yesterday that he gunned down his estranged wife and her daughter in what witnesses described as a public execution outside the Howard County Circuit Courthouse after a divorce proceeding last year.

Tuse S. Liu, 51, pleaded guilty to the first-degree murder of his wife, So Shan Chan, and the attempted murder of her daughter from a previous marriage, Wing Wu, a day before jury selection was scheduled to start in his trial.

As Liu was led away in handcuffs after his plea, Wu, 27, left the courtroom and collapsed in the hallway. She was taken from the courthouse in an ambulance for the second time.

"The tremendous stress of it all just hit her," said her friend Joseph F. Gaffigan, the lawyer who represented Chan in her divorce case. "How can you describe it? It was just too much for her."

Officials at Howard County General Hospital said Wu was being evaluated last night and no condition report was available.

During yesterday's hearing, Wu, clutching a framed photograph of her mother, was comforted by several friends and her sister from China. As prosecutors read the case's facts, she sobbed.

Liu stood quietly throughout the proceeding, his head bowed, answering questions in few words through an interpreter. At one point, he seemed confused by the difference between premeditated attempted murder and simple intent. The court recessed for about 45 minutes while his defense lawyer explained the difference to him. They returned, and the guilty pleas were entered.

It is unclear why Liu pleaded guilty instead of going to trial, as was expected. He had entered a plea of not guilty by reason of insanity.

But defense attorney Louis P. Willemin said yesterday that psychiatric examinations would not support that plea.

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