Trial Starts for Woman Who Put Husband's Penis in Garbage Disposal

The trial has finally begun for Southern California woman who (sort of) famously cut off her husband's penis before throwing it in the garbage disposal. Opening statements were heard on Wednesday from the prosecution and from the woman's public defender.

In case you don't recall the incident, which occurred in the summer of 2011, here's some background information: According to police, Catherine Kieu, then 48, now 50, drugged her husband (with tofu, no less), tied him up, cut off his penis with a 10-inch kitchen knife, and then, to top it all off, threw the severed penis into the garbage disposal and turned it on. She was arrested and charged with "aggravated mayhem."

But why did she cut off her husband's penis and throw it into a garbage disposal? One theory suggests that Kieu was upset by houseguests staying with her family. But Kieu's attorney offered up other, sadder and more plausible-sounding, reasons.

Deputy Public Defender Frank Bittar told jurors that Kieu's traumatic childhood in war-torn Vietnam caused mental illness that bars her from a mayhem or torture conviction.

Bittar said Kieu met the victim at a gym, and after they married he subjected her to sexual and verbal abuse, and filed for divorce while they continued to live together in his Garden Grove home.

The opening statements also revealed the existence of a recording of the incident. According to Deputy District Attorney John Christl, Kieu hid a voice activated recorder in the bedroom where the attack took place. At one point during the recording, you can hear her yelling, "You deserve it" three times. At another point, you can hear the garbage disposal being turned on.

As you might expect, the penis was too damaged to be reattached. The trial is expected to last for two weeks. If convicted, Kieu faces life in prison.