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Professor in Yoga Ball Murder Trial Is Convicted in Hong Kong

HONG KONG — An anesthesiology professor at a top Hong Kong university was convicted on Wednesday of murdering his wife and daughter with a yoga ball filled with carbon monoxide, in a case that drew intense local interest for its bizarre details and unusual family dynamics.

The jury voted unanimously for convicting the professor, Dr. Khaw Kim-sun, after almost seven hours of deliberation.

Three years ago, a jogger found Dr. Khaw’s wife, Wong Siew-fing, 47; and daughter Lily Li-ling Khaw, 16, unresponsive in a yellow Mini Cooper. An autopsy showed that both had died from carbon monoxide poisoning.

At first, the police examined the car for leakages, but when no problems were found, they grew suspicious about a deflated yoga ball in the trunk.

Dr. Khaw, 53, an associate professor in anesthesia and intensive care at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, had designed an experiment to test the effect of carbon monoxide on rabbits. A student with whom Dr. Khaw had begun an extramarital relationship had also been involved in the experiment. He was later seen filling two yoga balls with the gas.

When Dr. Khaw, who is Malaysian, was questioned by officers, he told them that he had transported the carbon monoxide in a yoga ball from the university to kill rats at his home. He said that his daughter Lily had seen him leave the ball in the family’s exercise area, and that, after his warnings about its lethal contents, she may have used it to commit suicide.

Dr. Khaw’s defense lawyer, Gerard McCoy, tried to build a case by portraying Dr. Khaw as a loving father who had inadvertently driven his daughter to kill herself because of his high expectations for her academic achievement. He argued that Dr. Khaw had found it difficult to empathize with his children’s learning disabilities and mental health issues.

The prosecutor, Andrew Bruce, described the deaths as the result of a “deliberate and calculated murder.”

Dr. Khaw faces a maximum sentence of life in prison.

Follow Tiffany May on Twitter: @NYtmay.

Source: NYT > World

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