Trial begins for Wheaton man charged with killing cousin's husband

  • Pi Lat

    Pi Lat

Updated 11/9/2020 6:42 PM

Lawyers for a Wheaton man charged with first-degree murder are arguing he was insane when he stabbed his cousin's husband to death in April 2019.

The murder trial for Pi Lat began Monday. It is being heard by DuPage County Judge Ann Celine Walsh O'Halloren.


Lat is accused of stabbing A Bawi three times in the chest and neck in an apartment in the 1400 block of North Main Street. Lat had been living with his cousin and her family because he had been charged with domestic battery of his own wife.

Prosecutors played a video of the Wheaton police interrogation of Lat. In it, Lat said the victim punched him first, and that he used kitchen knives to stab him.

He also said there was a robber downstairs and that he thought the victim was the robber.

"Sometimes my mind is not working right," Lat told police, through a Burmese interpreter.

He later said he stabbed Bawi while Bawi was sleeping.

The victim's wife testified, in a stipulated statement read in court, that the three of them grew up together in Myanmar. Both families moved to Malaysia.

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While there, Lat drank heavily, spoke of ghosts coming to him, saw things that weren't there and thought portraits hanging on walls were the heads of dead people, especially one time when he was in withdrawal, the statement said.

She and other relatives had him hospitalized, the stipulation stated, and he tried to kill himself,

Two days before the killing, Lat told her he was scared and the ghost of a friend came to him. They then prayed together, and he asked God for forgiveness.

The evening before the stabbing, he claimed television wires and the wheel nuts in a child 's roller skate were communicating with him, she testified in the stipulation.

She found her husband with a knife sticking out of his chest and Lat standing nearby with another knife in his hand. She wrestled the knife away from Lat. She went to a neighbor's to call police, with Lat following her, also urging the police be called.

It was previously reported Lat and the woman were siblings. Assistant State's Attorney Jennifer Lindt explained Monday that in Lat and Bawi's culture, cousins are commonly referred to as brother and sister.

The trial will resume Tuesday with testimony from a court-appointed psychiatrist.

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