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Third Circuit Affirms District Court’s Habeas Corpus Decision in a Highly-Publicized Father-Daughter, Arson-Murder Conviction of 1990

On August 19, 2015, after 10 years of habeas corpus proceedings, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit, in Philadelphia affirmed the district court’s habeas corpus relief in favor of Mr. Han Take Lee, who was convicted of the arsonmurder of his manic-depressive daughter Ji Yun Lee while they were visiting a Pennsylvania religious retreat in 1990.

Han Taek Lee’s daughter, Ji Yun Lee, suffered from severe mental illness throughout her life. On numerous occasions, she attempted suicide as well as homicidal ideation. In the summer of 1998, while she was living with her family in New York, New York City police officers found Mr. Lee retrieving personal items from the street that his daughter had thrown out the window. The officers entered the house to investigate and found Ji Yun Lee in a manic state, arguing with family members who were urging her to take her medications. The police officers observed no evidence of violence against her and apparently left the scene.

At the suggestion of his church pastor, Han Taek Lee took his daughter the same day to Camp Hebron, a quiet, religious retreat in Monroe County, Pennsylvania. According to Mr. Lee, his daughter’s erratic behavior continued at the retreat. Shortly after arriving at the retreat, Ji Yun Lee went for a walk and returned several hours later soaking wet, having jumped into a body of water. When she returned to the cabin, she became so agitated that she had to be physically restrained. It was that fateful night, around 3AM, that a fire began in the Lees’ cabin. Mr. Lee escaped, but his daughter died. READ MORE

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