Domestic Violence Story
You are a reporter for Irvine Today, a local online news publication. Just after 8
a.m. today, you received the following statement by e-mail from the Irvine
STATEMENT FROM THE IRVINE POLICE DEPARTMENT
At approximately 11:30 p.m. last night, we received a telephone call from a
person who identified herself as Sandra Kim. She sounded quite distressed in
informing us that she had just arrived home a few minutes earlier to find her
husband, Robert Kim, dead on the floor of the family’s Irvine home.
We responded along with paramedics and arrived at the home in the 600 block
of Birch Street in Irvine. Our officers, upon entering the kitchen, observed the
body of an Asian man on the floor. He had been shotseveral times. It was
determined he was deceased, the apparent victim of multiple gunshot wounds.
He has since been identified as Robert Kim, 47, a resident of the home.
Sandra Kim, 42, was at the residence and confirmed she had placed the call.
In initial questioning, Mrs. Kim told officers she sought to revive her husband before
placing her 911 call.
Officers noted objects strewn in the kitchen, signs of an apparent struggle. They
also observed a large contusion on Mrs. Kim’s right check. She said it was the result
of a recent biking accident.
In response to officers’ questions regarding who might have killed Mr. Kim, Mrs.
Kim replied he had many enemies, due to what she called his unethical business
dealings and unpaid debts. Further, she asserted, it was likely one or more of Mr.
Kim’s enemies committed the murder, as two of them had threatened to harm
him in the last few weeks.
Just before arriving home, Mrs. Kim said, she had been working at the accounting
office she owns and operates. She also said she had run a few errands.
However, officers determined that there were inconsistencies in accounts of her
whereabouts between 7 pm and her reported arrival home at 11:20 pm. She
became visibly nervous and agitated as the police interview continued, especially
as detectives focused on her activities before the emergency call.
Officers surveying the crime scene noted there were no signs of forced entry,
suggesting that the killer had easy access to the home or was allowed in.
Meanwhile, a search of the premises turned up a.38 caliber handgun. It was
wrapped in a cloth and inside a trash receptacle in a corner of the backyard.
Mrs. Kim was questioned about the weapon, and she admitted her earlier
account was inaccurate. Reportedly, what actually happened is that she and a
few friends decided to go out for drinks at about 7 p.m. last night.
Mrs. Kim said she did not inform her husband of her outing, as he would not
have approved. The couple had been undergoing severe marital difficulties, she
said, mostly due to his verbally and physically abusive nature.
Since moving from Korea to Irvine some five years earlier, Mr. Kim had become
extremely jealous and controlling, she claimed. This problem, according to her,
recently had become more serious, with Mr. Kim striking her at least three times
in the past six months.
Our department has no record of such incidents, and Mrs. Kim added that she
chose not to report them in the hope relations could be repaired through
marriage counseling. According to Mrs. Kim, the couple has never attended
As soon as Mrs. Kim arrived home, she told officers, Mr. Kim angrily confronted
her about her outing. He became extremely agitated, grabbed her by the
throat and struck her once with his fist, leaving the facial contusion observed.
Breaking free, Mrs. Kim allegedly retreated to a bathroom where she had hidden
a handgun in the event she needed to defend herself from Mr. Kim.
Mrs. Kim said she returned to the kitchen where she had been arguing with her
husband. According to her, Mrs. Kim brandished the weapon and warned Mr.
Kim that she would not hesitate to shoot him should he attempt to assault her
again. Additionally, she informed him she would seek a divorce immediately.
Enraged, Mr. Kim lunged at her, Mrs. Kim asserted. While she had the
opportunity to flee, Mrs. Kim told officers, she thought the best course of action
was to shoot her husband.
At that point, she fired the pistol, striking Mr. Kim numerous times. This attack
was necessary, she asserted, to protect herself from grave bodily harm or death.
Investigating officers determined that based on the available evidence, Mrs.
Kim should be arrested on suspicion of murder. Officers carried out the arrest
She is in Orange County Jail and is expected to attend a preliminary hearing
The couple’s children, ages eight and ten, were asleep upstairs. They were
unharmed. The children are in the custody of Children’s Protective Services
pending placement with relatives today or tomorrow.
Just as you are starting to write your story, you receive a phone call from Laura
Figueroa, who identifies herself as Mrs. Kim’s attorney. She says at the outset
that she will make a short statement and not take questions for now. Here is
“Mrs. Kim is a classic victim of battered women’s syndrome. The action she took
in defending herself from her husband’s brutal and potentially fatal assault last
night will form the basis of our defense against the unjust murder charge.”
She then ends the call.
You can find information on battered women’s syndrome here:
Your assignment is to write a story of between 400 and 425 words based
mainly on the statement. Mrs. Kim’s lawyer’s statement is far shorter, but it
needs to should not be buried in the story. carefully attribute the
initial statement to the police, and keep in mind that muchof what is reported
Some of what the police reported can be taken as fact, including the death and
its apparent cause. Other information is at this point the police version of what
happened. That does not mean it is not true, just that it must be properly
Your lead ought to summarize the key facts, such as the alleged murder and
arrest, but not include names or estimated times. Those kinds of details are best
wrapped into the body of the story. Ask yourself where do lawyer Figueroa’s
comments best fit.
Finally, carefully determine the best order of facts beyond the lead. As is
typical, the police have not organized facts in order of importance.