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Wife copes with Augusta restaurant owner's 2009 slaying

Shooter's appeal denied by court

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Ming Ming Cheung felt she was living in something close to hell when she came to the United States from Hong Kong in 1989.

Ming Ming Cheung's husband was shot and killed in May 2009.  SARA CALDWELL/STAFF
Ming Ming Cheung's husband was shot and killed in May 2009.

Transplanted from a metropolis of 5 million people to a South­ern town and speaking no English, Cheung had to build a life that revolved entirely around the kitchen of her new husband’s restaurant. But even in the midst of hardship, she could count on her husband, Jone Cheung, for a sympathetic word.

“He loved me so much. Even though we were poor, if I needed anything he would try to get it for me,” she said.

That changed May 30, 2009, when Jone Cheung was shot to death behind the counter of his restaurant, House of Cheung King of Wings on Milledgeville Road.

“I had nobody to talk to, nobody to share my anger, my happiness,” Cheung said.

Last week, Georgia Supreme Court justices unanimously rejected the appeal of the shooter, Michael Eugene Williams. His attorneys sought to portray him as an emotionally fragile 20-year-old who fired the fatal shot out of panic.

It’s a small relief for Cheung, but it doesn’t change her circumstances.

Cheung was 30 when a family friend from the United States came to Hong Kong looking for a bride. Her mother urged her to take the opportunity, even though she had just met Jone Cheung. He wasn’t handsome, but he was her age and she could sense his kindness and respected his honesty. With a promise that she could come home if things went sour, Cheung traveled to Augusta to start her new life.

The wedding was quick; the reception a simple meal of fried chicken. She transitioned immediately into a six-day work week, 12 hours a day, taking orders at the restaurant, which belonged at the time to her father-in-law. She was miserable that year, but time and her resiliency pulled her through.

In 2009, Cheung and her husband were still scraping by, but they had settled into a peaceful rhythm. After years of sacrifice, they were looking forward to a trip to Hawaii in December for their 20th anniversary.

Business was slow the night of May 30. Cheung was home packing for a trip to Hong Kong, and she urged her husband over the phone to close early. If he were was robbed, all the day’s work would be for naught, she said.

He took her advice, but as he flipped over the “open” sign later that night, two patrons appeared at the door. His decision to unlock the door was characteristic of a man always eager for a customer, Cheung said.

According to evidence presented at the trial, while Williams slipped into the bathroom to pull on a green bandana and skull cap, Susan Inglett put a dollar on the counter for a cup of the restaurant’s famous “Jone’s tea.”

While Cheung was distracted, Williams came out of the bathroom and pointed a gun at him.

What happened next shocked all the restaurant regulars, including Amy Reyes, who had known Jone Cheung since she was 8. When she heard the shot, Reyes rushed from the trailer park behind the restaurant. She couldn’t get in, but she peeked through a window and saw Cheung on the floor.

“I just wondered why,” Reyes said. “Why Jone? Why this place? Why in general?”

Everyone seemed to be crying, including the paramedics, as word of his death spread through the neighborhood, Reyes said.

Cheung continues to take her husband’s death one day at a time. Her two children are college-age now and she’s supporting them, along with her aging father-in-law. She traded the stress of the restaurant to a leaser and works another full-time job.

Forgiveness for Williams has not arrived. She last saw him at sentencing in January 2011 and said she detected no remorse in his smile or relaxed body language.

It’s just one more burden Cheung carries, Reyes said.

“It’s been rough on her, but she tries to keep her head up,” she said.

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raul 04/28/12 - 04:38 pm
Sad story. Too bad we don't

Sad story. Too bad we don't execute vermin like Michael Eugene Williams.

allhans 04/29/12 - 10:45 am
Another tragedy. One of many

Another tragedy. One of many in our community.
Do you have any idea how many women are living with the fact that their husband was murdered?
Somehow, they survive. Such is life.

Cdr4500 04/29/12 - 03:36 pm
Allhans, You must've never


You must've never lost a relative or close loved one to homicide. Actually that's good and I hope you never do have to experience it. It's not like losing a loved one to an extended illness or a freak accident. Everyday the loved ones of homicide victims must wake up knowing their relatives weren't just taken from them but taken in very violent and completely preventable ways. It's completely understandable how this woman feels. What's not understandable is your lack of compassion about it.....

allhans 04/29/12 - 10:33 pm
CD44500. YES! I have.

CD44500. YES! I have. Murdered. Shot by a high powered rifle.
It is the worst thing that can happen. The man goes to his job, a few hours later a call to rush to University ER. When you arrive you are told that he was DOA. Compassion? It sounds good.

YES! I know about the murder of a loved one. There are many more out here too.

ExpertCompSci 04/30/12 - 02:17 am
Comparing one's hurt to the

Comparing one's hurt to the total volume of the hurt of others is relativism. Relativism is used to rationalize evil.

The desire for others to be free from suffering because you would not want to suffer, is compassion.

Ignorance is not knowing the difference. Ignorance also supports evil.

Casting_Fool 04/30/12 - 07:27 am
Cdr4500, "It's not like

Cdr4500, "It's not like losing a loved one to an extended illness or a freak accident."

Belittling those of us who've lost a spouse to a disease or accident by telling us that we just can't understand the loss of a loved one to murder, is sad.

My wife died from a rare disorder that took 10 years to kill her, requiring most of my time caring for her and watching her slowly die. She died in 1992, and I still feel the loss and miss her deeply even now.

She was ripped from my life by something that I will never be able to fight or destroy. Frankly, I believe that you do not understand the loss of a spouse under any circumstance, if you grade them on a sliding scale that places the survivors of murder victims above any others.

Death is death. Losing a loved one is losing a loved one. Losing a spouse is having half your life cut out of your chest, leaving a black hole that may never be filled again.

Grading a spouse's death by listing murder at the top of ways to go is going about the thing backwards. It's how you experience the loss that counts, that determines how you survive, not how the death occurred.

My heart went out to Mrs. Cheung because the loss of my wife has left me sensitive to others losing their spouses, not particularly because her husband was murdered. Sadly, murders happen every day, along with accidents and disease, but the loss of a spouse and all that goes with that is a tragedy that I understand intimately.

Casting_Fool 04/30/12 - 07:37 am
Case in point:

Case in point:

"Three generations of a family killed after SUV plummets off highway near Bronx Zoo"

Quote from article: ""I don't want to live any more. I want to die," Juan Gonzalez, Maria Gonzales' husband told The Associated Press."

IMO, it's the loss that takes us unawares, not the manner of death.

allhans 04/30/12 - 09:10 am
There was never a lack of

There was never a lack of compassion for the lady, but is there a difference?
I think that all survivors go through a thing called torture. Give them a thought too.

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