In the closing arguments of an Orange County murder trial on Tuesday, prosecutors said the defendant was in love with the Army veteran and CSU Fullerton student he is accused of killing.
Prosecutors said Kwang Choi "KC" Joy, 55, got surgery to make his eyes look younger, paid to take Maribel Ramos, 36, on a cruise and panicked when she told him to move out of their apartment when he couldn't pay the rent.
"Maribel was his life, and the opportunity for him to be with the love of his life was coming to an end," Orange County Deputy District Attorney Scott Simmons told the jury.
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Ramos was last seen through surveillance footage, dropping off a rent check for her apartment in Orange on May 2, 2013, officials said.
She got into an argument earlier that day with Joy over rent, prosecutors said. They contended that the fighting, and Ramos' demand that Joy move out, led to her slaying.
Her badly decomposed body was found later that month near Modjeska Canyon in the Santa Ana Mountains, prosecutors said. Her cause of death has remained unknown.
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Eleven days before her disappearance, Ramos made a chilling 911 call, saying she was "afraid"after an argument with Joy.
Defense attorneys said Ramos was prone to paranoia, and that she had been drinking the night of the call. They maintained Ramos was suicidal and may have died of a medical condition.
But Simmons said Joy "did something to her that night that caused her to panic."
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"I don't know what it was, but he did something that caused her great fear," he said in court.
When Ramos disappeared, Joy told NBC4 that Ramos was his "only family."
"She's my best friend, and I want her to come back," he said.
Simmons said cuts and scratches found on Joy's body when he was arrested were likely from a struggle with Ramos.
Earlier in the trial, Simmons showed video of Joy walking into a public library. His search history there showed that he looked up how long it takes for a human body to decay, and the location where Ramos' body was later found, prosecutors said.
Closing arguments will resume Wednesday.