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Pastor on trial over fatal exorcism

Published: 3:40PM Monday November 26, 2001

A pastor has gone on trial for allegedly killing one of his followers while trying to cast out her demons in an exorcism.

Joanna Lee's decomposing body was found in a Mount Roskill house last December .

The accused, Yong Bam Lee, also known as Luke, was apparently waiting for the 37-year-old to rise from the dead.

The Crown alleges that Lee had performed several exorcisms on members of his Lord of All church, and claims this intense ritual spanned two days.

Crown prosecutor Aaron Perkins told the High Court in Auckland that in the day or two leading up to Joanna Lee's death, Yong Lee believed that she was possessed by numerous demons and that she needed to be rid of them.

It is alleged the pastor believed that the last of the demons was very large, and would not willingly budge from her throat.

The Crown says Yong Lee believed the demon was talking to him and applied prolonged and intense force to Joanna Lee's neck, strangling her to death.

Lee's body was left in a Mount Roskill house for a week after her death while Yong Lee prayed for her resurrection. The court was told that he continued to believe she would be resurrected, even when maggots began to appear on her body.

Yong Lee was allegedly so convinced that Joanna Lee would rise again that he ordered followers to buy a video camera to film the resurrection which he said would attract world-wide attention.

A concerned follower eventually called police.

On Monday afternoon Lee, who is representing himself, addressed the jury through his interpreter, saying: "You will see God's resurrection will cover this New Zealand... then you will believe what I say is true. "

The Crown maintains Lee's beliefs became so all-consuming he lost touch with reality.