Ex-gang leader convicted of 4 killings

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(CNS) – A former leader of a violent band of Asian Boyz gang members was convicted today of four counts of first-degree murder and other felonies for his role in a Los Angeles County crime spree in the 1990s.

A Los Angeles Superior Court jury also found Pierre Mercado guilty of five counts of attempted murder and one count each of kidnapping for robbery and kidnapping for extortion. Sentencing is scheduled for Aug. 24, when he faces up to 200 years to life in prison, according to Deputy District Attorney Eugene Hanrahan, one of two prosecutors in the case.

Asked if it was unlikely the 38-year-old Mercado will ever be released from prison, Hanrahan replied, “I think that’s safe to say.” Mercado showed no reaction as the verdict was read.

The other prosecutor, Deputy District Attorney Hoon Chun, said Mercado is the last of a violent group of 15 to 25 Asian Boyz members to be tried for terrorizing parts of Los Angeles County, including the San Fernando and San Gabriel valleys. He said many victims of the brazen shootings had no connections to gangs.

Mercado is the younger brother of Marvin Mercado, who was sentenced in March 2011 to eight consecutive terms of life in prison without the possibility of parole. The older sibling was convicted of eight murders.

Marvin Mercado, who was known by the alias “Shy Boy,” and his brother, dubbed “Boo Boo” by fellow gang members, were living in the Philippines as fugitives when they were arrested in 2007 and brought back to Los Angeles to stand trial.

“Some say justice delayed is justice denied,” Chun, who prosecuted both Mercado brothers, said after today’s verdict. “I don’t happen to believe that. We got some justice today.”

Chun said that what made the crime spree especially egregious and motivated law enforcement to travel 7,000 miles overseas to apprehend the Mercados is that one witness was killed and the father of another was shot at the front door of his home.

Pierre Mercado’s lawyer, Albert DeBlanc Jr., said he was disappointed with the verdicts. “It’s unfortunate,” he said. “I hate to see my client’s life reach this point.”

Pierre Mercado was convicted of first-degree murder in the slayings of 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.

He also was convicted of murder in the death of Tony Nguyen, who was killed with a shotgun prosecutors said was fired by one of the Mercado brothers’ accomplices.

The Mercados were fugitives 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.

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