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Chyung has new lawyer and trial date in Norwich murder case

September 24, 2018

Chihan Eric Chyung has retained a prominent Hartford defense attorney to represent him in his second murder trial for the June 2009 shooting death of his wife in Norwich.

Hartford attorney Hubert J. Santos filed an appearance in his case recently. Jury selection was scheduled for Dec. 3 during an appearance Monday before Judge Arthur C. Hadden. The trial will take place at the Norwich courthouse.

Chyung, 55, remains incarcerated while awaiting his second murder trial.

He was convicted of murder and manslaughter in 2014 and sentenced to 40 years in prison, but the state Supreme Court overturned the verdict in April 2017 and sent the case back to the trial court.

According to testimony and court documents, just 17 days after Chyung and paige Anne Bennett were married, Chyung shot Bennett, 46, after the couple fought about expenses. Chyung admitted on the witness stand at his first trial that he shot Bennett, but claimed his Glock 9-mm handgun discharged accidentally when he attempted to pack it in a suitcase and leave their Taftville home. The state contended he intentionally killed Bennett.

The Supreme Court ruled that the guilty verdicts for both manslaughter and murder were legally inconsistent. The murder charge required that the jury find Chyung acted intentionally, while the manslaughter charge required a finding that he acted with reckless disregard for human life.

Chyung has been represented by several private attorneys and court-appointed lawyers while his cases were pending. His two most recent attorneys, Cheryl E. Heffernan and Dennis P. McMahon, both cited a breakdown of the attorney-client relationship when asking to withdraw from the case.

Santos has been practicing law for more than 40 years. Locally, Santos is perhaps best remembered for his representation of  the late Charles Buck of Stonington, who was accused of killing his schoolteacher wife, Leslie Buck, in 2002. Buck retained Santos after he was arrested in 2009. Santos and his then-partner, Hope Seeley, advised Buck to have his case tried by a three-judge panel rather than a jury, in part because of widespread publicity about the case. The judges heard the case and found Buck not guilty of murder.

Seeley has since become a Superior Court judge.

k.florin@theday.com

 

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