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GANG MEMBERS WON'T BE EXECUTED.

Byline: Phillip W. Browne Daily News Staff Writer

Four Asian Boyz gang members will spend their lives in prison without the possibility of parole instead of facing the death penalty for seven murders they committed in 1995, prosecutors said Wednesday.

The Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office decided not to retry the penalty phase after a jury deadlocked on whether to impose the death penalty, said Deputy District Attorney Laura Baird.

``We had hoped for the death penalty, but based on the situation and the previous jury's feelings we don't think we would be able to get a favorable verdict,'' she said.

Some jurors indicated they rejected the death penalty because the gang members were only in their 20s, some victims belonged to gangs and provoked the killings, and an accomplice-turned-witness lied in testimony.

``They felt that some of their victims were highly antagonistic, and that the defendants were just too young to die,'' Baird said.

Two of the seven victims were not gang members.

Bunthoeun Roeung, 22; Roatha Buth, 26; Son Bui, 22; and Sothi Menh, 23, are scheduled to be sentenced in June, Baird said.

Roeung's attorney, Stephen Sitkoff, said the gang member is pleased with the ruling.

``He feels very bad for what he has done, especially to his family,'' Sitkoff said. ``He wants to be a living example of what happens when you go astray. I hope all of them, in whatever fashion, will make something of their lives.''

Van Nuys Superior Court Judge Darlene Schempp declared a mistrial April 28. The jury had split in favor of life in prison without parole for Roeung, Buth and Bui, and in favor of death for Menh.

Three other Asian Boyz were sentenced to life in prison last month for their roles in some of the killings.

Among the slayings were two rival gang members killed during a turf dispute in Pacoima in April 1995 and, four months later, a freeway shooting that caused a crash that killed three other gang members.

They also were convicted of killing a youth in August 1995 as he drove away from a San Fernando Valley arcade with friends after celebrating a birthday, and another young motorist who was shot in the head as he waited for the gate to open at his apartment building.

Shortly after the trial began last September, the father of a former Asian Boyz gang member-turned-witness was slain in front of his San Jose home. That killing remains unsolved, but it is believed to have been retribution, Baird said.
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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:May 27, 1999
Words:422
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