Chyung's lawyer asks to be removed from second murder trial

The state-appointed attorney representing Chihan Eric Chyung, as his murder case heads for a second trial, is seeking to be removed from the case on the grounds that there has been "a complete breakdown of the attorney-client relationship."

Attorney Cheryl E. Heffernan of Hamden, Chyung and prosecutor David J. Smith appeared Wednesday before Judge Arthur C. Hadden in Superior Court in Norwich, where the case is expected to be tried in 2018. It was in Norwich that Chyung fatally shot his wife, Paige Anne Bennett, on June 2, 2009. He admits killing her, but his intent has come into question during court proceedings.

Heffernan did not elaborate on the problems she and Chyung have had during the brief hearing. The judge deferred action on her motion to withdraw from the case until Jan. 12. He told Chyung to decide whether he and his family would be hiring a private attorney or whether he wants another special public defender.

Chyung, 54, remains incarcerated in lieu of a $3 million bond while his case is pending. He was convicted of murder and manslaughter at a trial in 2014 and sentenced to 40 years in prison, but the state Supreme Court reversed the conviction in April and returned it to the trial court.

The case was overturned because the court found the two verdicts were 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.

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

k.florin@theday.com

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