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Judge Denies Bail Reduction Request For Dongwook Ko

Dongwook Ko

Dongwook “Mikey” Ko faces four felony charges, including attempted murder. (Courtesy Monroe County Jail)

A Monroe County judge decided Friday not to reduce bail for the 17-year-old Bloomington boy accused of repeatedly stabbing a 13-year-old girl on Indiana University’s campus last week.

Dongwook “Mikey” Ko faces four felony charges, including attempted murder.

Ko appeared in court with his lawyers, Carl and Emily Salzmann, and his mother, Jeeyeon Kim, on Friday.

Judge Darcie L. Fawcett ruled that if Ko posts 10 percent of the $150,000 bond and $500 cash, he’ll be released and placed on house arrest at his mother’s home. He will be monitored with a GPS ankle bracelet

Carl Salzmann immediately requested a Korean interpreter for the hearing and any subsequent competency evaluations.

Salzmann called Kim to the stand as a witness. She identified her son as “Mikey” and confirmed that he has been in the United States since they moved from South Korea in 2011.

Kim says she and her son are both South Korean citizens. She is in the country on an F1 student visa as a graduate student at Indiana University and Ko is on an F2 visa.

She says the whole incident has taken her by surprise.

“He’d never hit anyone before,” she says. “He never harmed anyone physically before.”

Deputy Prosecutor Chris Pierce asked Kim if there were any prior violent incidents involving her son. She admitted that he did “slap” a girl in middle school. She also noted that Bloomington North High School administrators investigated Ko in 2017 after he took and distributed a Snapchat photo of an airsoft gun, which was then screenshotted and further distributed. The school suspended Ko during the investigation, and Kim says the school never shared its findings with her.

Kim says she voluntarily transferred Ko from North to Bloomington South High School in 2018 due to the incident. She says she wanted to prevent him from interacting with other kids who she believed made the situation worse.

Kim pleaded with Judge Fawcett to allow Ko to remain at home on house arrest while he awaits trial. She promised to surrender his passport and notify correctional officials if anything seemed amiss. She says she would prefer to spend the potential bail money on admitting Ko to Bloomington Meadows Hospital, a behavioral healthcare facility.

Ko’s attorneys have requested a competency and psychological evaluation.

Pierce entered two letters into evidence: one from the father of the victim, and one from the mother of a friend of the victim who also witnessed the aftermath of the incident.

The witness was also attending the camp and was present when IU Police Department detectives interviewed the victim.

Pierce called Sergeant Rebecca Schmuhl as a witness. Salzmann asked that Judge Fawcett limit her testimony to what was in the probable cause affidavit, which the judge denied.

Schmuhl described the events of July 12, saying that the victim claimed Ko had “clenched” her throat with his hand to prevent her from breathing or screaming. Schmuhl confirmed that she saw blood in multiple locations in the Music Annex building, as well as multiple wounds on the victim’s body.

She testified that Ko and the victim met at the String Academy summer camp last year. They were part of the same four-musician chamber group. Schmuhl says the victim told her that she'd seen Ko on campus a few days prior to the incident and they said hello to each other before parting ways. She says the victim described their relationship as nothing more than acquaintances because of their difference in age. 

Schmuhl says an IU employee pulled Ko off of the victim before leading him downstairs to the building’s mailroom, where Ko broke away from him and fled. The employee chased Ko, but he was able to get away before police arrived.

Schmuhl says IU police searched Ko’s car, a Land Rover, and found a BB gun and a collapsible baton similar to those often used by police in riot situations.

She says the university issued a no-trespass order for Ko after his initial arrest, which states that if he is found on university property he can be arrested. IUPD Capt. Craig Munroe says the no-trespass order is valid for Ko’s lifetime, but there is an appeals process.

Salzmann asked Schmuhl about the security of the building and the summer camp and argued that a building with “empty, dark places” would not be a “safe situation” for anyone. He alleges that Schmuhl’s presence at the hearing was part of a “piling-on effect” by IU.

Judge Fawcett overruled his line of questioning.

She approved another no-contact order, this time for the victim’s friend and witness – the daughter of the woman who submitted a letter to the court.

Ko will remain in custody with a hold, pending an evaluation of his mother’s home by corrections officials. Once he is found eligible and if bail is posted, the judge ordered him to surrender his passport and remain on house arrest.

This post has been updated.

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