Chyung murder trial postponed due to death of expert

The murder trial of Chihan Eric Chyung, which was scheduled to get underway today in New London Superior Court, has been postponed due to the death of the firearms expert who examined the 9 mm pistol Chyung allegedly used to shoot his wife.

Chyung, 50, is accused of murdering Paige A. Bennett on June 2, 2009 at their home at 257 Norwich Ave., Taftville. Chyung admitted he and Bennett, who had been married for just three weeks, had been arguing before he shot her, but said his pistol discharged accidentally.

Testimony at Chyung's trial is expected to center around the weapon's safety features. Prosecutor David J. Smith said the pistol, which police recovered in Chyung's pickup truck after the shooting, would have to be retested due to the death last month of firearms examiner Gerard Petillo. Petillo, a former New York City detective and longtime firearms examiner with the Connecticut forensic laboratory, died December 26 at Yale New-Haven Hospital.

Norwich police initially charged Chyung with manslaughter, but Smith upgraded the charges to murder in June 2011. At Chyung's probable cause hearing in August 2011, Petillo testified that he had examined the 9 mm handgun and determined it was functional. He said while the gun does not have an external safety, the gun's three internal safeties were working.

Chyung is represented by Brian J. Woolf and Kathleen J. Rallo of the Woolf Law Firm in East Hartford. He remains free on a $1.25 million bond, with electronic monitoring, while his case is pending. He is due in court Tuesday, when attorneys will discuss the status of the case. The retesting of the pistol could take place within a month, according to Smith.


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