• California Supreme Court Refuses to Review Case Against Asian Gang Leader

    LOS ANGELES (CNS) – The California Supreme Court refused today to review the case against a former Asian gang leader convicted of murder for his role in eight Los Angeles-area killings, primarily in the San Fernando and San Gabriel valleys.

    Marvin Mercado was convicted in February 2011 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 off-ramp 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;

    – Jon Gregory, who was killed during a Sept. 20, 1995, home invasion robbery in Reseda; and

    – Tony Nguyen, who was killed March 17, 1996, with a shotgun the prosecutor said was fired by one of Mercado’s accomplices at a party in the San Fernando Valley.

    Mercado also was convicted of 10 counts of attempted murder.

    In a ruling last December, a three-justice panel from California’s 2nd District Court of Appeal rejected Mercado’s contention that there were errors in his trial in Los Angeles Superior Court.

    “As a whole, the record provides substantial evidence such that the jury could properly find appellant guilty beyond a reasonable doubt,” the justices found in their Dec. 14 ruling.

    Mercado, described by authorities as a former leader of one of the cliques of the Asian Boyz gang, was sentenced in March 2011 to eight consecutive life prison terms. Jurors had recommended that he be sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole rather than the death penalty.

    Mercado was a fugitive when seven onetime 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.

    Deputy District Attorney Hoon Chun told jurors during the trial that 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 was living in the Philippines under an assumed name after marrying into a socially prominent family when he was arrested in 2007. He was extradited to Los Angeles to stand trial.

    Mercado’s brother, Pierre, was also sent back from the Philippines to stand trial and was convicted last year of four counts of first-degree murder in connection with the slayings of Peng, Vu, Liao and Nguyen, and sentenced to 218 years to life in state prison. His appeal is still pending.

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