A 46-year-old woman accused of splitting a moneylender’s skull with an ax in order to steal her jewelry was sentenced on Wednesday to life in prison in a verdict the crime’s chief investigator described as unjust.
Chea Mom was arrested in May 2015 after witnesses said they had seen her at the home of her friend, Meng Sai, 53, who was found dead in Khemara Phoumint City’s Dang Tong commune.
After her arrest, Ms. Mom told police that she had seen the victim’s daughter, Pann Ney Sing, 31, commit the murder. She said Ms. Ney Sing had bribed her with jewelry to dispose of the bloody ax.
Ms. Ney Sing, who was charged with premeditated murder by the Koh Kong Provincial Court in June, was released after multiple witnesses testified that they had seen her at the market during the time of the crime.
Ms. Mom, who was initially charged with conspiracy to murder, was convicted on a charge of premeditated murder.
“We decided to sentence her to life in jail,” Presiding Judge Aing Chenda said. She also was ordered to pay 20 million riel, or about $5,000, in compensation to the victim’s family.
The charge against Ms. Ney Sing was dropped, the judge said.
Lay Meng Laing, chief of the provincial police’s minor crimes bureau, who led the murder investigation, said he was “extremely disappointed” in the verdict, which he described as unjust as two witnesses had seen the two women leaving Meng Sai’s house together that morning.
“We think 100 percent that Ms. Pann Ney Sing is the killer and Ms. Chea Mom is an accomplice,” he said.
“Ms. Chea Mom confessed to me that Ms. Pann Ney Sing was the killer and attempted to steal $100,000 and 10 damlung of gold jewelry from her mother,” Mr. Meng Laing said. A damlung is a unit of weight equal to 37.5 grams.
“But the court still said we did not have enough evidence and they could not believe Ms. Chea Mom’s testimony,” he said.