The Supreme Court on Tuesday convicted a man of robbing and killing a taxi driver 18 years ago, after the previous suspect was found innocent in a retrial after serving 10 years behind bars.
The top court upheld the appellate decision on a 37-year-old man, only identified by his surname Kim, charged with homicide and robbery, and affirmed the 15-year sentence for the defendant.
Kim is convicted of stabbing a 42-year-old taxi driver, surnamed Yoo, in Iksan, North Jeolla Province, in August 2000. He was found in his cab and died on the way to the hospital.
In the initial probe, police arrested a 16-year-old Choi, who was the first witness to the scene, as the murder suspect. They announced that the suspect got into a fight with the driver and killed him in a rage, using a tool from a toolbox installed on his motorbike.
Choi was sentenced to 15 years in jail by a lower court and served a full 10-year jail term after an appeal.
It turned out later in the reinvestigation that police at the time had no conclusive evidence against Choi, such as blood stains on his belongings.
Police tried to reopen the case in 2003 after they got a tip-off about the real killer. But it never took off due to a lack of evidence and Kim's continued denial.
The reinvestigation was launched after Choi, now 32, won the retrial in 2016 in which he was acquitted of all charges. The court acknowledged Choi's claim that he confessed to the crime under duress. Kim was arrested and indicted for murder and robbery.
The top court on Tuesday ruled in line with the appeals court's conviction on Kim, citing the consistency of the testimonies by the witnesses.