Probable cause found to try couple in homicide case

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The CNMI Superior Court has found probable cause to try a couple who is accused of murdering a man at the Paseo de Marianas on New Year’s Day.

Following a preliminary hearing for Kong Ling Yang and Yi Lyuqin yesterday, Superior Court Associate Judge Kenneth Govendo found probable cause to try the couple for their alleged involvement in the stabbing murder of Li SongZhi on New Year’s Day.

After the court heard the testimony from the government’s witness and based upon the matters adduced at the hearing, the court found probable cause to believe that the crime of second-degree murder was committed.

The court also found probable cause to believe that Kong committed the crime of assault with a dangerous weapon and assault and battery, while probable cause was found to believe that Yi was an accessory to the crime.

Govendo ordered the couple to return to court for their respective arraignments on Jan. 24, at 9am before Presiding Judge Roberto C. Naraja.

According to court documents, Kong stabbed Li multiple times following an altercation between the two that stemmed from an altercation between their girlfriends.

Li suffered multiple injuries to his upper body with lacerations on his head, neck, and upper torso and puncture wounds to his chest and left ribcage.

In a statement from Kong at the scene, he stated that he was drinking with Li, when Li’s girlfriend started “talking bad” to Kong’s girlfriend, which led to the physical altercation between the two men.

Kong told police at the scene that, during the fight, Li’s girlfriend got hit as she attempted to intervene, prompting Kong to pick up an object from the ground and begin stabbing Li. When asked about the type of object he used to stab Li, Kong said he could not recall.

However, in a follow up interview with Kong at around 6:40pm on Jan. 1, he said he got angry when Li was assaulting him, causing him to reach for the pocket knife in his right back pocket. He claims he decided to stop after two stabs after seeing Li’s shirt soaked in blood.

After the stabbing, Kong said Yi told him to run, but he said he wouldn’t. As they were approached by police at Smile Massage, Kong said he realized that the knife was gone from his pocket and assumed that Yi took it and left.

Meanwhile, during the on-scene investigation, another police officer noticed a female Asian, later identified as Yi, return to the crime scene but in a different outfit. Officers noted that there were blood stains on the side of the woman’ chin.

At this same time, a DPS detective located a small, black folding knife behind a typhoon shutter attached to the westernmost unit adjacent to the Paris Croissant establishment. The knife appeared to be folded out with the blade exposed and with blood stain.

At around 3:02am, Yi was arrested and transported to the Department of Corrections for booking and detention.

Yi told police in a separate interview that Li’s girlfriend, Jiao He, had been yelling at her, and the two began to argue, which prompted Li to step in and assault Yi.

Yi claims that after Kong saw Li attack her, he stepped in and carried the fight outside of the bar and over to the Paseo de Marianas by the Hanamitsu Parlor.

There, Yi said that Kong and Li were scuffling on the ground for a while before she pulled Kong off from Li. As she and Kong left Li lying on the ground, police pulled up and began talking to Kong. She said that’s when she saw a pocket knife sticking out from Kong’s back pocket and pulled it out and hid it behind a typhoon shutter near King’s Jewelry.

Kimberly B. Esmores | Reporter
Kimberly Albiso Bautista has covered a wide range of news beats, including the community, housing, crime, and more. She now covers sports for the Saipan Tribune. Contact her at kimberly_bautista@saipantribune.com.
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