Robert Xie murder trial: Kathy Lin has always stood by her husband
Sydney woman Kathy Lin looked down and shook her head, unable to speak.
It was a little over a week after she found the beaten and bloodied bodies of her brother's family, when she made a public appeal to find their killer.
Asked by a reporter to describe what she saw when she went to the home of her brother, newsagent Min "Norman" Lin, on the morning of July 18, 2009, Lin bowed her head.
"I think she would rather not talk about it," a translator told reporters, who were eager to hear about the puzzling murders of Lin, his wife Lily, sister-in-law Irene, and his young sons Terry and Henry.
Kathy Lin could not have imagined the tumultuous years ahead of her.
The man sitting next to her at the press conference that day – her husband Robert Xie – was charged with the murders in May 2011, and taken into custody.
Lin sat through a committal hearing, two aborted trials, a third complex nine-month trial, which ended with a hung jury, and a fourth trial that ran for over six months.
Having lost most of her family, and now with her husband in the dock, Lin stood by him and proclaimed his innocence during the drawn-out court process.
Lin walked briskly into court most days carrying a backpack, and often sat in the public gallery during Xie's trials, next to journalists and law students.
She sometimes wrote in a notepad the size of her palm, sitting cross-legged and anxiously jiggling her foot or clearing her throat.
Many times she sat bolt upright, tightly clutching the hand of a Salvation Army court support worker.
Lin was a difficult witness during the third trial in 2015, having to be reminded to keep her breathy voice up, sometimes saying she could not remember certain events, and asking for adjournments to attend doctors' appointments.
The only time she spoke in a firm, audible voice was when she was declaring her husband's innocence.
She said Xie had been home in bed during the night of the murders, even though she couldn't remember waking up that night.
"Do you know whether or not Robert left the house that night on the 17th and 18th of July?" asked Mark Tedeschi, QC, who was the Crown prosecutor in the first three trials.
"No, he didn't leave home," Lin said.
At one stage, Lin appeared evasive when she was asked about whether she remembered her husband doing anything with shoe boxes after the murders.
The Crown alleged that, after being interviewed by the Crime Commission, Lin had tipped her husband off about investigations into whether the bloodied shoe prints at the crime scene matched his sneakers.
Out of the presence of the jury in the third trial, Justice Elizabeth Fullerton said: "She is being deliberately coy, to put it in a light way.
"She's fearful now of giving evidence that would impact her husband."
Under questioning from then-defence barrister Graham Turnbull, SC, Lin continued to stand by Xie, saying he was actively involved with his nephews.
"He loved my brother and he loved Henry and Terry," Lin said.
Asked whether she was ever concerned about being the focus of the police investigation, Lin said firmly: "My concern is they arrest me and charge me anytime.
"My husband and I are victims."
- Sydney Morning Herald