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Saturday, 28 April 2012

Gang member gets life without parole for café murder | kim, hyun, gang


16:31 | , ,

Asian gang member sat quietly at a counsel table Friday while he was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole plus 255 years to life in prison for his role in an unprovoked gang shooting at a Cypress café that left one woman dead and several others wounded. The sentence means that Stephenson Choi Kim, 31, of San Gabriel, will never be considered for parole, unless his conviction for the special circumstances murder of Venus Hyun, 21, is reversed on appeal. Orange Coutny Senior Deputy District Attorney Cameron Talley points to the defendant, Stephenson Choi Kim during opening statements of his trial last year. Kim initially faced a possible death penalty for the March 31, 2004 shooting spree at the Fifth Wave Café in Cypress, but when his penalty phase trial jury deadlocked last year at 7-5 in favor of a life without parole sentence, the District Attorney's Office decided against a re-trial. Superior Court Judge John Conley handed down his sentence Friday after he listened to a poignant victim-impact statement from Hyun's brother, who told Kim that the Hyun family forgives him. "The next chapter in your life is going to be a real difficult time. It's going to be hard," said Giant Hyun. "But it's something that you don't have to go through on your own...Jesus loves you. You can still find joy and hope...But what is more real is the grace and the mercy." Kim was convicted last year of first-degree murder plus several counts of attempted murder for shooting Cerritos resident Venus Hyun in the back and the wounding four others in the unprovoked shooting. Witnesses testified that Kim, who was known to his Asian street gang as "Dragon," was the shooter who calmly walked into the crowded café looking for rival gang members, and then shot Hyun as she huddled with her friends. Three of the friends were wounded before the shooter fled through the back door of the café and disappeared into the night. Kim was arrested and charged with special circumstances murder after a five-month investigation by Cypress police. Deputy District Attorney Cameron Talley relied on the testimony of six former gang allies of Kim, who made deals to plead guilty to lesser charges in exchange for their cooperation. Talley said Kim was "cold-blooded and cowardly" for gunning down Hyun -- who was not affiliated with any gang -- as she cowered in fear. Contact the writer: lwelborn@ocregister.com or 714-834-3784 More from Crime Courts Safety »   COMMENTS | PRINT | EMAIL |   SHARE Reader Comments Comments are encouraged, but you must follow our User Agreement. 1. Keep it civil and stay on topic. 2. No profanity, vulgarity, racial slurs or personal attacks. 3. People who harass others or joke about tragedies will be blocked. View Article | Article Photos


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