2011-03-30 "Ex-Asian Boyz Gang Member Sentenced To Life For Eight Murders" from "City News Service"
A former Asian Boyz gang member was sentenced today to eight consecutive life prison terms without the possibility of parole, plus 30 years, for his role in eight Los Angeles-area killings.
Marvin Mercado, 37, was also sentenced by Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Robert J. Perry to 10 terms of 15 years to life behind bars -- plus an additional 20 years -- for his convictions on 10 counts of attempted murder.
Jurors recommended March 7 that Mercado be sentenced to life behind bars rather than the death penalty for his crimes.
The seven-woman, five-man jury convicted him Feb. 16 of eight murders, which were carried out primarily in the San Fernando and San Gabriel valleys in 1995 and 1996.
Mercado was living in the Philippines under an assumed name after marrying into a socially prominent family when he was arrested in 2007 and later brought back to Los Angeles to stand trial.
"I'm very thrilled for Marvin that he is going to be able to live, one of Mercado's attorneys, Robert Schwartz, said after the jury's March 7 decision. He said he believed jurors may have been swayed by Mercado's crime-free life after fleeing to the Philippines following a two-year crime spree.
Schwartz called the life prison term ``a horrible sentence' that ensures that his client will die behind bars.
Deputy District Attorney Hoon Chun said the prosecution respected the jury's penalty phase verdict, but respectfully disagreed with its decision.
He had asked the panel to recommend a death sentence, telling jurors, ``This guy's got ice water in his veins.'
Chun told reporters following the jury's decision that the first two victims were gang members, and the remaining six were ``innocent victims' who were ``just in the wrong place at the wrong time.'
Mercado was convicted of first-degree murder in the slayings of:
-- Armando Estrada and Miguel Limon, two rival Latino gang members who were shot numerous times after being ambushed at an apartment complex on Valerio Street in Van Nuys on April 14, 1995;
-- Cheng Peng, Paul Vu and Ben Liao, who were mistaken for members of a Taiwanese-based gang. They were followed by three carloads of Asian Boyz gang
members as they left a Peck Road cafe, got on the westbound San Bernardino (10)
Freeway and then attacked near the Temple City Boulevard offramp in El Monte on
Aug. 1, 1995;
-- Oscar Palis, who was killed on Aug. 26, 1995, at Woodman Avenue and Devonshire Street in the Mission Hills area as he and others were heading home from a video arcade;
-- John Gregory, who was fatally shot during a Sept. 20, 1995, home-invasion robbery in Reseda; and
-- Tony Nguyen, who was killed with a shotgun the prosecutor said was fired by one of Mercado's accomplices.
Jurors also convicted Mercado of 10 counts of attempted murder involving attacks between April and September 1995, but acquitted him of an 11th count of attempted murder. They deadlocked on a home invasion robbery charge.
Additionally, jurors found that the crimes were gang-related and that Mercado had used a firearm in some of the attacks. The panel also found true a special circumstance allegation of multiple murders, which made Mercado eligible for the death penalty.
Mercado was a fugitive when seven one-time cohorts of the gang's Van Nuys clique
-- Buntheon Roeung, Sothi Menh, David Evangelista, Roatha Buth, Son Thanh Bui, Ky Tony Ngo and Kimorn Nuth
-- were tried, convicted and sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole in June 1999.
The prosecutor told jurors Mercado either had a direct role in the killings or aided his colleagues, including being the driver in the car-to-car shooting in El Monte.
Mercado's other attorney, Donald Calabria, questioned the credibility of four prosecution witnesses who were granted immunity for serious crimes in exchange for their testimony.