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Relying heavily on the testimony of two admitted thugs, a jury Monday convicted the leader of the notorious Asian Boyz street gang of three murders, seven attempted murders and conspiracy, crimes for which he could be executed. Authorities suspect the defendants were involved in the unsolved crime. Sothi Menh, 24, and two other defendants were convicted for their roles in a crime spree that began with the ambush of a rival Latino gang on the lunar new year and included a series of car-to-car shootings that left seven people dead.

The verdicts for the charges against the remaining four defendants will be read today. Police said the case could result in more death penalties than any other trial in state history. Five defendants initially faced death, but one was spared that fate Monday. David Evangalista, a former honor student and hospital volunteer, was convicted of only one murder, rather than the four he was originally charged with. Verdicts due today could send two other defendants to a penalty trial, where the six-man, six-woman jury will be asked whether the defendants should be put to death or spend the rest of their lives in prison.

Prosecutors will paint the defendants as ruthless killers. They will point out not only the crimes of which they were convicted but also plan to offer other killings police attribute to the gang, but for which the defendants have not been charged.

Defense attorneys will portray their clients as young men who were scarred by the never-ending violence they witnessed as youths in war-torn Cambodia and the so-called killing fields that some of them are said to have lived through as children. They are accused of follow-home and home-invasion robberies in which they mainly targeted members of their own ethnic communities.

Authorities say that the crime spree for which the defendants stood trial was a violent bid to become the most-feared Asian gang in Los Angeles. Detectives say the defendants targeted not only rival gang members, but also persons they mistook for gang members, as well as absolute strangers. From the witness stand, Truong Dinh and Paul Prado recounted a deadly ambush on a rival Latino gang, an armed mission to seek out and shoot other gang members and running gun battles in which Asian Boyz members fired two and three weapons, then delivered execution-style blows to their dead or dying rivals.

In her arguments to the jury, Deputy Dist. It was just like a movie. Authorities were protecting Dinh but had not extended protection to his family because they said they thought that killing a relative was taboo even for this gang, which was once before suspected of killing a witness to a murder trial.

Officers in assault gear have periodically blocked the surrounding streets when the defendants arrive and leave the courthouse. Seven bailiffs block every entrance and exit to the courtroom. After three weeks of deliberation, jurors passed a note to the judge Friday afternoon indicating they were through deliberating.

They said they had reached some verdicts but were hung up on others. Jurors were twice sent back to the jury room, once to reconsider the special circumstance murder allegation against Menh, and once to try to sway a single holdout against convicting Evangalista of a second murder. Menh betrayed no emotion as clerk Glen Covey read the guilty verdicts. Jurors were hopelessly deadlocked on a of charges regarding the shooting of a carload of people, one of whom, Oscar Palis, was killed.

Before the case was turned over to the jury, Schempp dismissed several counts, finding the evidence did not support them. The dismissal was most important for Evangalista, who initially was charged with four murders and the special circumstance of multiple murder, charges that made him eligible for the death penalty. The judge eliminated two murder and other charges relating to one attack, leaving just two murder charges remaining. But while Evangalista was convicted of six attempted murders, jurors found him guilty of only one murder, sparing him the death penalty.

Hoon Chun stated in court papers. Evangalista faces 45 years plus six life sentences. Police and lawyers on both sides were prohibited from commenting on the case by a gag order. All Sections. About Us. B2B Publishing. Business Visionaries. Hot Property. Times Events. Times Store. Facebook Twitter Show more sharing options Share Close extra sharing options. VAN NUYS — Relying heavily on the testimony of two admitted thugs, a jury Monday convicted the leader of the notorious Asian Boyz street gang of three murders, seven attempted murders and conspiracy, crimes for which he could be executed.

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Leader of Asian Boyz Convicted of 3 Murders