New trial ordered in slaying of man’s estranged wife’s lover
HACKENSACK, N.J. (AP) — A New Jersey appeals court has ordered a new trial for a man convicted of killing his estranged wife’s lover and then torching his body on the bed where she told him they first had sex.
The panel of appellate judges ruled Friday that trial errors prevented Sui Kam “Tony” Tung from receiving a fair trial in the March 2011 murder of 59-year-old Robert Cantor in Teaneck, The North Jersey Record reported.
Tung, a 56-year-old Manhattan resident, was sentenced to life in 2016 in the slaying. He was also sentenced to an additional 10 years for setting fire to the body in a blaze that destroyed the victim’s home.
Prosecutors said Tung forced his way into Cantor’s home at gunpoint a year after finding out about the affair by installing spyware on his estranged wife’s computer. He then marched Cantor to the basement bedroom where his estranged wife had told Tung they first had sex and shot him in the head before dousing him with alcohol and setting his body ablaze, prosecutors said. No DNA, fingerprints or weapon was found, but prosecutors argued Tung was the only person with the motive to kill Cantor so brutally.
Tung’s public defender said he was innocent and the victim of an investigation that failed to look at any other potential suspects.
Tung denied having left Manhattan on the night of the slaying. An expert witness testified that all activity ceased on his computer for several hours, and a program was then launched to permanently delete several files. But the appeals court said no direct evidence was presented that Tung had traveled to New Jersey. It found the state relied on “circumstantial evidence of a strong motive, a false claim of being home all night except for a trip to buy beer, as well as the timing of defendant’s massive computer wipe.”
The appeals court said the trial court let prosecutors hint at the defendant’s guilt through “repeated references” to his seeking an attorney and refusing searches of his computer and car, which “improperly encouraged the jury to make negative inferences,” even though such rights are constitutionally protected.
The decision also criticized testimony by a county detective who interviewed Tung and cited his years of administering lie detector tests, “suggesting that (his) own experience and specialized training enabled him to determine that defendant was lying,” the judges wrote.
Bergen County prosecutors said they are reviewing the decision and will consult with appellate section attorneys before making any decisions about an appeal, a representative said Friday.
Information from: The Record (Woodland Park, N.J.), http://www.northjersey.com