May 2, 2013 by Robert Franklin, Esq.
Almost unnoticed this past Tuesday, a jury in Santa Ana, California found Catherine Kieu Becker guilty of torture and aggravated mayhem in the sexual mutilation of her husband two years ago. Becker’s husband had recently filed for divorce but allowed her to remain in his house while she looked for other accommodations. Becker repaid his generosity by drugging a bowl of soup she gave him to eat and then, once he had gone to bed, tying him up, severing his penis with a large butcher knife and grinding it in the garbage disposal. She then called 911.
When police arrived, Becker could be heard shouting “You deserved it!” to her bleeding husband. Her words were caught on at least one of the several recording devices she’d hidden throughout the house in the hope of catching her husband in an affair with another woman. Her spying failed to reveal him doing anything untoward, but did catch her admission that the jury later listened to.
Efforts to reattach her husband’s penis failed due to the damage done to it by the garbage disposal.
To my knowledge, no media outlet covering the case has yet referred to it as domestic violence.
Perhaps the most famous (actually, infamous) aspect to the case came when panelists on the women’s TV talk show The Talk discussed Becker’s sexual mutilation of her husband with unrestrained joy. Including the almost all-female audience, to a woman they gloried in the man’s pain and disfigurement with one panelist, Sharon Osbourne, terming the savagery “quite fantastic.”
Predictably enough, Becker’s defense at trial was that she had suffered so terribly at the hands of her husband that, well, what’s a girl to do? Becker’s lawyer claimed that, when she and her husband had sex, sometimes it cause her pain. That, plus the unsupported claim that she’d been abused as a child in Viet Nam were supposed to convince a jury to set the 50 year old Becker free.
It didn’t work. The jury found her guilty on all counts. Sentencing is scheduled for June 28th. Becker faces up to life in prison for her crime, but my guess is she’ll receive far more lenient treatment than that. For one thing, she’s already spent time in jail awaiting trial. For another, she’s a first offender. And, perhaps most importantly, she’s a woman. Sentencing data consistently show women receiving significantly more lenient sentences than men in the same and similar circumstances. Studies consistently show that men are more likely to receive custodial sentences than are women and, when they do, their sentences are longer. When the penalties are monetary, such as fines or compensation for damage done during criminal wrongdoing, men are ordered to pay more than are women.
Add to that the fact that Becker played the abuse card and my guess is she’ll get something like five years, less time served.
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