A husband and wife accused of murder for allegedly dismembering their elderly father in the Outer Mission have pleaded guilty to lesser charges and are expected to be sentenced later this month, officials confirmed Thursday.
Stephanie Ching, 36, is slated to be released from jail after pleading guilty last week to felony charges of being an accessory after the fact and desecration of human remains in connection with the death of her father, 73-year-old Benedict Ching.
She has negotiated a three-year prison sentence that will be suspended while she serves probation for the next three years, according to the Public Defender’s Office.
Her husband, 45-year-old Douglas Lomas, pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter last week and is expected to be sentenced to six years in prison, both the Public Defender’s Office and District Attorney’s Office confirmed.
Police discovered a gruesome scene when officers searched the home of Benedict Ching at 161 Del Monte St. in May 2019, the San Francisco Examiner reported at the time. There was blood and a circular saw in the bathtub as well as a human body parts including a severed head inside the refrigerator.
Benedict Ching had been reported missing after he stopped showing up for work.
The morning of the discovery, Lomas and his wife allegedly boarded a flight with their two children to China where they were arrested and returned to the U.S.
Both were charged with murder. At the time, the assistant district attorney working the case argued in court records that the couple had a disregard for human life.
The couple “exhibited no remorse or concern for the death of the victim, and hastily fled to China as family members began to question the victim’s whereabouts,” Assistant District Attorney Omid Talai wrote.
But the Medical Examiner’s Office could not determine a cause of death, and a motive for the alleged murder was unclear based on the evidence, according to the District Attorney’s Office. There was also an issue around establishing which of the defendants did what.
Deputy Public Defender Ilona Solomon, who is representing Lomas, argued that her client acted in self-defense.
“This was a terrible set of circumstances for a very complicated family,” Solomon said in a statement. “Mr. Lomas was acting in self-defense following an attack by his father-in-law, who later died. The DA could not prove that Mr. Lomas committed murder because there was zero evidence of malice.”
Both Lomas and Stephanie Ching are due back in court Oct. 15 for sentencing.
Alex Bastian, a spokesperson for the District Attorney’s Office, said the family of the victim is aware of the negotiated sentences and has been consulted throughout the process.
Attorney Jose Umali, who is representing Stephanie Ching, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.