Kim plans to appeal conviction
Apr. 19, 2000
Brian A. Gnatt
Staff Writer

The North Potomac woman who was sentenced Thursday in the hit-and-run death of 14-year-old Kevin Mackey will appeal the verdict, her attorney said Tuesday.

Kap Joo Kim, 45, of the 13800 block of Mustang Hill Lane in North Potomac, will appeal her District Court ruling today or Thursday and post bond to remain out of jail, said her attorney, Robert C. Bonsib. Kim was scheduled to report to the Montgomery County Detention Center by 6 p.m. Thursday.

Bonsib said an appeal will throw out Kim's conviction and six-month sentence and start the case over in Montgomery County Circuit Court. She will have the option of a jury trial in Circuit Court, as opposed to a judge's decision in District Court.

"Mrs. Kim has maintained and continues to maintain her innocence with the hit-and-run charges," Bonsib said. "...This has been a very difficult decision for her to make."

At sentencing, Bonsib told the judge his client was remorseful and ready to accept her punishment, but an appeal shows that is not the case, said John Mackey, Kevin's father.

"Her remorse is about as insincere as it could possibly be," he said. "She said she was prepared to accept the sentence. Obviously it was all a sham because she was not prepared to take her medicine."

Kim was sentenced by District Court Judge Eric M. Johnson to serve six months in the county's pre-release center -- a dorm-like facility in Rockville where inmates work or seek treatment during the day and return at night. She was also fined more than $1,500, and ordered to serve 250 hours of community service that involves working with children and 18 months on probation.

Bonsib had requested only probation for his client, but Johnson said he would impose a jail sentence.

"What happened with Mrs. Kim is panic set in," Johnson said. "... She did not want to accept what just happened -- it was a horrible scene."

The maximum penalty for hit and run is one year in jail, and Johnson said he would not impose the maximum sentence because Kim turned herself in when police may not have been able to identify her.

"I'm so sorry," Kim said through an interpreter to the Mackey family before being sentenced. "... I will remember with the picture you have given me throughout my life," she said, referring to a picture of the boy that was given to her by Kevin's mother before the proceeding.

Kim was convicted last August of four traffic offenses resulting from the Sept. 5, 1998, crash that killed Mackey, who was hit by Kim's Dodge station wagon while he rode his bike on the shoulder of Dufief Mill Road.

In addition to leaving the scene of an accident, Kim was convicted of negligent driving, failure to furnish her driver's license and registration and making an unsafe lane change.

At trial, Kim said she did not know she hit anyone when she veered onto the shoulder while driving on Dufief Mill Road that day. Mackey died in the hospital three days later from severe head trauma.

Kim said she was falling asleep at the wheel and only later realized her car was involved in the crash. She said at trial she did not see the boy fly through the air and hit her car, as witnesses described the crash.

Kim said when she arrived home she noticed damage to her car, which included a shattered windshield on the passenger side and a round indentation in the glass and aluminum frame where Mackey's head hit the car.

Assistant state's attorney Cheryl McCally said Kim's bad judgment did not begin when she hit Mackey and drove away, it began when she left her job in Virginia exhausted and too tired to drive.

"She should have stopped," McCally said. "This is what the defendant chose not to do."

At the sentencing, John Mackey remembered his son's life, from the great surprise on Dec. 23, 1983 -- the day Kevin was born -- when he first learned his fourth child would be his only son, up to 4:25 p.m. on Sept. 8, 1998, when the boy died.

Mackey recounted the events of Sept. 5, 1998, when Kevin left the house on his bike about 2 p.m. to play tennis. John Mackey described after he and his wife left the house about two hours later, they saw emergency vehicles as they drove down Dufief Mill Road, the route they knew Kevin took.

Mackey walked through the horror of frantically asking rescue personnel on the scene if it was a boy on a bike who was injured, and then learning the answer was 'yes.' He said he walked closer to the accident scene and then saw Kevin's bike.

"I shouted it's him," Mackey testified.

Mackey described his son as a physical teen who was undaunted by obstacles and loved every aspect of sports, whether playing soccer, basketball, hockey, golf, swimming, or simply reading the sports section of the newspaper -- something he had done since he was 4 years old.

"I've lost my only son," Mackey said. "The woman who killed him will still not take responsibility for what she did."

Mackey talked about the turmoil his family went through, and continues to go through 1 1/2 years later.

Friends avoid them in the supermarket, he said, and many people don't mention Kevin's name in fear they won't know what to say.

"It is very gratifying," Mackey said, "for someone to bring Kevin's name into a conversation and let us know they haven't forgotten him."

Woman sentenced for hit-and-run death will seek new trial