cellJeena Young Han

 

Jeena Han's Story.

Jeena and Sunny Han were both born in Korea in 1974 and immigrated to the United States in 1986. After their mother falling upon hard times, it was decided that the two sisters should live with distant relatives in Campo California. The support that the two girls had more often than not came from each other. They even achieved the honor of being co-valedictorians at their high school despite the difficulties of the difference of culture and initial language barriers.

After graduation the close friendship of sisters found very difficult times. While both sisters made mistakes each in turn fueled a familial strife that began driving them apart. What was two sisters that seemed inseparable over time became arguments and discord as two young adults with no role model attempted to find their way in life.

The series of events culminated on November 6, 1996. The facts portray a very different story compared to the perceived attempt by the prosecution to read Jeena's mind. Jeena went to Sunny's home with two friends. The boys went into Sunny's apartment and bound Sunny and her roommate. Jeena was outside waiting as the two boys were inside the apartment. The police were called and quickly arrived on the scene. The parties were all arrested and the trial degenerated into the media-hyped “Hans Evil Twin Murder Conspiracy” case.

What followed was a lawyer named Roger Alexander who represented Jeena yet he presented no defense. The prosecution, led by Bruce Moore, hinges the conspiracy charge on a receipt from Target without even having possession of the items from the receipt and the police who had no inventory of evidence. Then a confession by one of the boys in which Jeena's council would not cross examine leaving Jeena exposed to this conspiracy charge despite interrogation interviews that could have aided to clear her name. In the end, confused jurors questioning why no defense had been given.

Jeena adamantly asserted that she did not plan to kill her own twin sister. Sadly, with the backdrop of the media storm, the jury accepted the prosecution's theory and inferred that Jeena Han and the boys planned to kill Sunny. Consequently, Jeena was found guilty of conspiracy to commit murder in addition to burglary and false imprisonment. The conspiracy conviction netted her a sentence of 26 years to life in state prison. Jeena was only 23 years old at the time of her conviction.

Jeena accepts full responsibility for the burglary, the egregious robbery plan, and the anguish imposed upon her sister and her sister's roommate. Jeena understands that the history of familial strife between her and her sister, combined with the events of November 6, could have allowed a jury to draw the conclusion that it did. However, only Jeena Han is privy to the actual thoughts in her mind that day and she knows with unequivocal certainty that she would have never murdered her own twin sister. Furthermore Sunny Han has forgiven Jeena and still holds that she does not believe that Jeena would have ever caused any harm to her.

During nearly 15 years of incarceration, it may be tempting for Jeena to go down the avenue of angrily railing against the injustice of her conviction, but in her time in prison, Jeena has come to peace by accepting that she owes a debt to the victims and to the society at large – nothing can excuse or erase her terrible actions. Even the murder conspiracy conviction was itself, ultimately, a direct consequence of her poor exercise in judgment. She blames nobody but herself and desperately wishes she could somehow undo the past.

In an effort to atone for that past, Ms. Han has unquestionably been a model prisoner at Central California Women's Facility at Chowchilla, CA during the last fifteen years.

One must be left to question if the actions taken on November 6 of 1996 warrant a sentence of 26 years to life especially when Sunny Han herself pleaded on her sisters behalf for mercy. Furthermore after having served 15 years one would have to ask if the time presently served is sufficient for the crimes that were committed and admitted to. She was denied the opportunity to take the stand in her trial, tried jointly with the co-conspirators and afforded mere hours of defense over a ten day period while facing a media firestorm.

One year after her conviction the “Good Law” came to Jeena's aid. In an effort to obtain nearly one million plus signatures to petition for a retrial with support from the Republic of Korea. The Good Law did obtain the signatures and appealed to the courts asking for Ms. Han's retrial. These efforts were ignored by the State of California despite Ms. Han having international support.

In 2008 the Federation of Korean Americans signed petitions on Jeena's behalf. These organizations in total estimate collectively represent more than 2.5 million Korean Americans across 113 associations asking for clemency, mercy, from the then Governor Arnold S. This too was ignored by the state of California.

The question is, what can be done today? What is there that has not been exhausted? There is something that can be done to help Jeena. Click on how to help.