SINGAPORE: When Malaysian Boh Soon Ho found out that there were other men in the life of a woman he loved and had been "dating" for years, he grew so angry that he looped a towel around the woman's neck and strangled her.
"I was very, very angry, I was perspiring and shaking," said the man accused of murder on the stand on Tuesday (Oct 8).
"I took a towel to wipe my face and to wipe off the perspiration ... I had no intention, it was a moment of impulse that the towel eventually caused (her) to die."
Boh, 51, is on trial for killing 28-year-old nurse Zhang Huaxiang before trying to have sex with her corpse and stealing from her.
Taking the stand for the first time on Tuesday, the Singapore permanent resident told the court his account of events leading up to the incident on Mar 21, 2016.
Prompted by defence lawyer Eugene Thuraisingam, Boh told the court via a Mandarin interpreter how he was born in Malacca and had a good relationship with his father.
However, his mother committed suicide when he was three and he was cared for by his grandmother and other relatives, and he did not have a good relationship with his stepmother when his father remarried.
He did poorly in school, dropping out in Secondary 2, and worked for his father, who was in the furniture business, before coming to Singapore to work as an adult.
He told the court he had had two relationships, with each lasting a few months, and also went to visit prostitutes.
He got to know the victim, China national Zhang Huaxiang, in 2011 or 2012 when they were both working part-time at the staff cafeteria in Marina Bay Sands Resort.
HE FELL IN LOVE WITH THE DECEASED, ASKED HER TO MARRY HIM
They had a good relationship, said Boh, helping each other out at work, then progressing to go out for meals and shopping, with him footing the bill each time.
He was the one who first asked her out, and he described how he would hold her jacket for her on her request, share a drink with her instead of having one each, and send her home to her doorstep.
Boh called the victim Princess Xiang Xiang, while she called him "foodie" as he loved to eat, and they went out for about three to four years, he claimed.
She would feed him food such as bread and popcorn in movies, and he "was happy", as she seemed to care for him.
"I fell in love with her," said Boh, but did not think about how the relationship was progressing, as he felt it was going along "naturally".
He even accompanied her to buy undergarments, and she would ask his opinion on them, but would not try them on for him to view, he said.
"On one occasion, after shopping, I sent her home," said Boh. "I asked her if she had any boyfriend. I said if she did not have any boyfriend, I asked her to marry me, and she kept quiet."
He said he asked her for her hand in marriage as he loved her very much and wanted to protect her, and felt happy when he was with her.
He considered her his girlfriend even though he had never asked her to be his girlfriend. They had never kissed, and had never held hands except on one occasion while crossing the road, and he never asked her for sex because he felt "embarrassed".
"It was natural, I did not feel that I had to ask her," said Boh when questioned by his lawyer on why he had not asked her to be his girlfriend.
On whether he thought she considered him her boyfriend, Boh said: "I felt that she liked me. She treated me well and she took care of me."
"More or less she treated me like her boyfriend, but I'm not sure," he said. "It's difficult to catch a girl's intentions, what's in their mind."
Boh said the money he spent on Ms Zhang spanned from daily necessities to food and undergarments that cost more than S$300.
He kept paying for her because he felt that "as a man, I should be more generous", adding that he loved her, even though she never thanked him.
HE GROWS SUSPICIOUS, SPOTS HER WITH MAN
This went on until about January 2016, when Ms Zhang started to turn down his requests to go out.
Feeling suspicious, he waited at the foot of her block on Mar 18, 2016, and saw her getting into a taxi with a man.
He felt shocked, surprised, angry and jealous, said Boh, who gave testimony in his purple prison outfit.
"I didn't think this would happen because I really liked her and loved her and for her to treat me this way, my mind was in a mess," he said.
He took a photo of the taxi with his phone, and tried to follow them but could not catch up.
Instead, he arranged to have steamboat with Ms Zhang at the flat he rented, which was something they did on occasion.
While at his flat, Ms Zhang said some "nasty things" to Boh, calling him "useless foodie" after he told her he would not give her S$1,000 as she requested.
"I was very angry, but we were eating steamboat so I didn't want to quarrel with her because we won't be able to have steamboat," he said.
While he did the dishes after, Ms Zhang went to his room to put on makeup as there was air-conditioning there. It was not the first time she had entered his room, he said.
HE TELLS WOMAN HE WANTS TO HAVE SEX WITH HER
"I told her Xiang, I want to have sex with you," said Boh. "She said - crazy, get lost. I was very angry."
He pushed her on the bed and kissed her and touched her, and she said that if he kept it up, she would bite off his tongue.
They later went to the living room, and he asked the woman to go home as he felt "very awkward" and "very bad" for hurting her feelings as it felt "very forced".
Boh, who has an IQ of 74, later asked Ms Zhang who the man in the taxi was, and she told him she had met him at a casino and they had gone out four to five times.
"I said 'I didn't expect you to be such a person'," said Boh.
"She replied: 'So I can go out with you but I cannot go out with him?' and I was very angry," he said.
Boh had also known about a man named "Tian Meng", as he had checked her mobile phone a few years before this when she passed it to him after getting him to send her to the airport.
He asked Ms Zhang who Tian Meng was, and she replied that he was her boyfriend in China and it "was normal for them to be intimate occasionally".
He took the Chinese words "qin qin re" to mean that they had sex.
"IT WAS LIKE A FIRE REACHED MY HEAD"
"I was very, very angry," said Boh. "It was very sudden, it was like, a fire reached my head and I was very angry."
He said the anger was because he "liked her too much", and there were suddenly two men in the picture, which he found "was hard for me to accept".
He took a towel hanging from behind the door, went to the mirror and wiped off his sweat.
On a moment of impulse, he placed the towel around her neck, intending to "scare her", looped it and let go only when she stopped moving, he said.
"I didn't expect that I would do that, I didn't expect to be so impulsive, it all happened very suddenly," he said.
"I felt pained, very pained," said Boh on repeated questioning from his lawyer, after giving the same few answers over and over again. "I felt very sad because firstly there was the man from the casino, then Tian Meng, I was struggling inside."
"I did so many things for her, but I didn't expect her to treat me this way," he said. "For many years I would buy her things and we would eat together and I would give her money to gamble, but then two men came into the picture and at that moment I couldn't accept it."
While he held the towel around her neck, he thought about the two other men.
He let go of the towel after she was sapped of her energy, he said, but he did not intend to kill her.
"I only wanted to scare her, but I didn't expect to cause her death."
After this, he did not know what to do and went back to Malacca, Boh said.
TRIED TO COMMIT SUICIDE IN RIVER, BUT IT WAS TOO SMELLY
"I even tried to commit suicide by jumping into a river, but that didn't happen because the river was too smelly," he said. "I even bought a toilet cleaning solution and kept it in my room and thought that if one day I was upset enough, I would drink it."
He told his younger sister that he had done "something wrong" in Singapore and accidentally caused Ms Zhang's death, and also told his landlord.
He said he was arrested while at dinner at a restaurant in Malaysia on Apr 4, 2016, and taken to a lock-up and to court. He was later taken back to Singapore.
The trial continues on Wednesday, with the prosecution set to cross-examine Boh.
If found guilty of murder, he could be sentenced to death or life imprisonment. He cannot be caned as he is above 50 years old.