Girl recalls stepdad's actions in stabbing
A 14-year-old girl said her stepfather had asked her a strange question before stabbing her mother repeatedly with a kitchen knife in their Kalihi apartment.
"He asked us if we wanted my mom dead," the girl, the stepdaughter of Hong Van Ho, testified yesterday in Honolulu District Court. "He wasn't smiling so I took it seriously."
But she wasn't prepared for the violence that erupted several hours later after her mother, Ellen Huynh, arrived from work.
District Judge Peter T. Stone ruled there is probable cause that Ho had committed the actions he was charged with and transferred the case to Circuit Court for trial.
Ho, 42, is accused of second-degree attempted murder in the May 31 incident that apparently resulted in part over an argument about whether the girl should be seen by a doctor for a swollen eye.
Ho insisted the girl didn't need a doctor after examining her, but her mother believed a doctor should see her, particularly since her daughter was attending a banquet the next day.
Ho, who apparently was drinking, didn't want to take his stepdaughter to the doctor and Huynh didn't believe he should be driving in his inebriated state. The couple continued to argue as Huynh called her sister's husband to ask if he could take her daughter to the doctor, the girl testified.
But after Huynh hung up the phone, Ho walked to the kitchen and grabbed a knife, saying, "I have to kill you today," before he attacked his wife, the girl recalled.
"He was just stabbing her," the girl testified, demonstrating how her stepdad held the knife in an overhand grip and repeatedly made contact, causing blood to spurt from her mother's chest.
"I was really shocked," the soft-spoken girl said. Her 7-year-old stepbrother apparently witnessed what happened, she said.
As her mother pleaded for Ho to stop and tried to ward off the blows, the girl said she called police then tried to stop her stepdad by hitting him in the back with her bare hands and then with a chair on his shoulder, but he wouldn't stop.
Ho finally stopped and went into the hallway leading to the front door, and that's when the girl fled the apartment to try to get help before police arrived.
A doctor who performed emergency surgery on Huynh at the Queen's Medical Center told police she suffered substantial injuries that put her at risk of dying from blood loss and will suffer permanent disfigurement from the wounds she suffered to her face. She also suffered a broken rib and punctured lung.
Defense attorney Howard Luke called the incident tragic but said Ho's actions did not amount to attempted murder because he did not finish what he started after the girl fled the apartment.
"We're still trying to figure out why this happened," Luke said afterward.
Ho, a supervisor for a wholesale food products company, had been under a lot of stress lately at work but has no prior record and is supportive of his family, Luke said.
Ho will remain in custody in lieu of $250,000 bail.