A California woman convicted of plotting to kill her identical twin sister may walk free after nearly two decades in prison, according to reports.
Dubbed the “evil twin” by investigators in a case that made international headlines, Jeen “Gina” Han and two teen co-defendants were found guilty of conspiracy to commit murder and other crimes for the 1996 attack on Sunny Han and her roommate, Helen Kim, at their apartment in Irvine.
Jeen Han hatched the failed plot to kill her sister after Sunny Han — who police called “the good twin” — accused Jeen of stealing her credit cards and BMW.
The Korean-born twins, who were co-valedictorians of their high school class in Campo, were once close, but had a history of fighting and became estranged in the years leading up to the attack.
After Sunny Han found that Jeen Han had stolen from her, she punched her in the face and had her arrested, prosecutors said.
Jeen Han was arrested on the theft charges but escaped from a San Diego jail during a work furlough, the Los Angeles Times reported.
After speaking for days about wanting Sunny dead, Jeen asked Archie Bryant, then 16, and John Sayarath, then 15, to kill her sister.
On Nov. 6, 1996, Jeen Han waited in a car as Bryant and Sayarath rang the doorbell to Sunny Han and Kim’s apartment, posing as magazine salesmen.
Kim refused to let them in, but the pair forced their way inside.
Sunny Han was in her bedroom when she heard a struggle outside and called for help. Shortly after she dialed 911, the teens burst into her bedroom and tied her up, officials said.
“But for Sunny Han miraculously having a cell phone on her person when Gina Han’s accomplices stormed the apartment, this would have most certainly been a first-degree murder, if not a double-homicide,” prosecutors wrote last week in a letter obtained by the LA Times opposing Han’s release.
Police arrived on the scene quickly to find Sunny Han and Kim bound and gagged.
Jeen Han was arrested in Irvine in connection to the attack on her sister.
Her co-conspirator Bryant was sentenced to 16 years in prison, while Sayarath was sentenced to eight years, pending a review to determine whether he would be serving time in the California Youth Authority.
Jeen Han was sentenced to 26 years to life in prison for her part in the conspiracy.
While in custody, she unsuccessfully tried to take her life with sleeping pills.
During a court appearance, she apologized to the Korean American community, which sent 17,000 signatures to officials in their campaign for leniency in her sentencing, and to her sister.
“I am deeply sorry for everything that has happened,” she said in court. “I am truly sorry... I had absolutely no intent to kill my twin sister. Sunny is my flesh and blood. I just want my sister to know that I love her very much.”
Sunny Han was not in court, The Times reported.
Now 43, Jeen Han has spent 19 years in prison.
The state Board of Parole recommended her release after her initial hearing on Oct. 31, The Orange County Register reported.
Gov. Jerry Brown has the final say on upholding or rejecting parole.
The Orange County District Attorney’s Office in a letter on Monday asked Brown to reject the board’s decision, saying Jeen Han is still a risk to society.
The district attorney’s office also said she has failed to address her alleged mental disorder.
“At the parole hearing, Gina Han at first blush appeared to have attempted introspection; however, she is very intelligent and still manipulative,” Deputy District Attorney Nikki Chambers wrote in the letter to Brown.
Jeen Han reportedly gave to the board letters from a number of men with whom she has corresponded as examples of her plans for parole, the prosecutor said.
The correspondents live across the country and the world and offer her money, jobs and housing, said Chambers, who noted one man who lives abroad gave her $100,000 after a year of writing to each other.
“This manipulative ability is not surprising, given her extreme intelligence coupled with an untreated personality disorder,” Chambers wrote. “The fact remains that she is still flexing the manipulation muscles that she used when she recruited two young men to murder her sister, and they appear to be as keen as they were in 1996."