File photo of Jutting, a British banker charged with two counts of murder, sitting in the back row of a prison bus as he arrives at the Eastern Law Courts in Hong Kong
Rurik George Caton Jutting, a British banker charged with two counts of murder after police found the bodies of two women in his apartment, sits in the back row of a prison bus as he arrives at the Eastern Law Courts in Hong Kong on Nov. 24, 2014  Bobby Yip—Reuters

Hong Kong Jury Decides Verdict in British Banker Murder Trial

A jury in Hong Kong was dismissed on Tuesday to decide the verdict of British former banker Rurik Jutting, who faces two charges of murder for killing two Indonesian women, 23-year-old Sumarti Ningsih and 26-year-old Seneng Mujiasih, in his luxury apartment here in 2014.

The judge, Michael Stuart-Moore, instructed the nine members of the jury to disregard “passion or disgust” when making a decision, and instead consider only the facts.

For two weeks, the jurors have been forced to contemplate many hours of very visceral evidence from one of the grisliest crimes to grip Hong Kong in decades. Over the course of one week at the end of October 2014, then 29-year-old Rurik Jutting, a banker with Bank of America Merrill Lynch, solicited two women for sex, brought them back to his apartment, and tortured them before slitting their throats.

The first victim, Sumarti, was kept as a prisoner in Jutting's high-end residence for three days, where she was beaten, forced to eat excrement, and sexually abused before she was finally killed. He filmed much of this on his iPhone, and also recorded long narratives after the fact, in which he confessed to killing both women.

Jutting was arrested in the early hours of Nov. 1, 2014, when, under the influence of large quantities of cocaine, he called the police to his apartment.

He has pleaded guilty not to murder but to manslaughter, citing what English law calls "diminished responsibility." (Hong Kong, a British colony until 1997, retains its English system of jurisprudence.)

The defense does not dispute that Jutting killed Sumarti and Seneng, but has argued that a confluence of mental disorders — narcissistic personality disorder, cocaine-and-alcohol-abuse disorders, and sexual-sadism disorder — impacted his ability to make responsible decisions at the time of the killings. To that end, several psychiatrists acting as expert witnesses for the defense have taken the stand in the past two weeks to present a thorough portrait of Jutting's psychological past.

It is these components, and not the grisliness of the killings themselves, that the court is asking the jury to consider. Judge Michael Stuart-Moore implored the jurors to decide based on the evidence if his "perception, understanding, judgment and self-control" suffered as a result of mental abnormalities at the time of the killings.

Stuart-Moore dismissed the jury shortly before 10 in the morning on Tuesday. A verdict is anticipated later in the day. A sentence of murder mandates a life sentence in Hong Kong; manslaughter has a maximum life sentence but it is not mandatory.

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