The tragic story of a professor killed in a robbery ended with a unique resolution last week.
Dr. Young Kun Kim of Lehman College was killed last December after being pushed during a robbery at an ATM machine on Broadway between 96th and 97th Streets. The assailant, 52-year-old Michael Lee, was arrested and initially charged with murder. But Kim’s case took a different turn when an assistant District Attorney Dafna Yoran approached Kim’s family about trying for a different outcome.
Yoran contacted the professor’s son, Jinsoo Kim, to see if he would be interested in pursuing “restorative justice” instead of a traditional prosecution, Gothamist reported.
“The decision was not immediate,” Jinsoo Kim told Gothamist. But he was a new father. “We were raising a sweet, joyful innocent daughter, and anger had no place in any of that.”
Kim also knew what his father would want – a man devoted to teaching the value of human rights and compassion, who planned to write a book “about the small happinesses in life, and how they are important, yet often overlooked,” he said.
Kim and his wife met with Lee and Lee’s sister for an hour and a half, and came to understand his background, and the desperation he felt that led to his awful decision to rob and push Kim. As part of the process, Lee pleaded guilty to manslaughter and received a 10-year-sentence. The courtroom scene on Friday was unique.
“What followed was an unusual scene: the victim’s family took the hand of the perpetrator’s sister, and they walked across the courtroom together,” according tot Gothamist. The DA’s office is looking to expand the restorative justice program next year.