A US woman cut off her husband's penis because she "wanted him to stop hurting her" with it, and was enraged that she thought he had another woman, her lawyer said Wednesday.
Catherine Kieu Becker planted audio devices to try to catch him having sex with a lover, but they failed to find any evidence -- although the bugs did record the night she "took away his manhood," tossing it into the garbage.
Kieu, 50, is accused of drugging her estranged 60-year-old husband's dinner then tying him to a bed and cutting off his penis, at their home in Garden Grove, southeast of Los Angeles, in 2011.
"This is a case about a husband wanting to seek a divorce from his wife and her unwillingness to accept it," prosecutor John Christl said at the start of her trial. "By refusing to accept it, she committed a vicious act.
"She took away his manhood," he said, calling Kieu a "very controlling, manipulative woman... who knew exactly what she was doing."
The prosecutor said audio bugs recorded the events of July 11, 2011, when she mixed the insomnia drug Zolpidem into a bowl of tofu soup.
"You can hear him saying, 'Oh, it's good'," Christl said. "You can also hear him saying, 'It's a little salty'," before going to bed early, at about 8:10 pm. When he was asleep she used ropes to tie him to the bed.
When he woke, she told him "You deserve it" three times, and then "slices off his penis with one motion of the knife," Christl said. "She then walks into the kitchen, takes the severed penis and puts it in the garbage disposal."
Her lawyer Frank Bittar said Kieu had suffered a "lifetime of trauma" beginning with her childhood in civil war-torn Vietnam, and including being raped by an older brother repeatedly when she was six years old.
After moving to California she got married for a first time in 1984, but agreed to an "amicable" divorce in 1997.
"She's not jealous and she's not wicked and she's not a black widow," Bittar insisted.
She married her second husband -- whose identity has not been revealed -- in December 2009. He was "hyper-sexual," using erectile dysfunction drugs and forcing her into "painful" sexual positions, the attorney said.
"You're going to learn that in Catherine's mind, she severed his penis because she wanted him to stop hurting her with his penis," he said in his trial opening statement.
If convicted, Kieu faces up to life in prison without the possibility of parole.