Southern California -- this just in

« Previous Post | L.A. NOW Home | Next Post »

Asian Boyz gang shot-caller should get life in prison, jury says [Updated]

Marvin Mercado shown in a police photo in 1997. A jury on Monday voted for life in prison without the possibility of parole -- and not the death penalty -- for a gang shot-caller convicted in connection to eight killings and 10 shootings in the San Fernando and San Gabriel valleys.

Jurors convicted Marvin Mercado, 37, on the charges last month in Los Angeles County Superior Court. Police said Mercado was the shot-caller of the Asian Boyz gang, which by the mid-1990s was 200-strong, with the bulk of its members in Southern California. The slayings all occurred in the mid-1990s. Seven of Mercado's co-defendants were convicted in 1999, but Mercado eluded authorities for more than a decade by escaping to the Philippines.

During the trial for his co-defendants, a Los Angeles Police Department detective described the spate of violence as "summer madness."

"They did it just for fun," Det. Larry Dolley said in 1998 on the eve of the first trial.

[Updated at 3:55 p.m.: After the verdict was read, Mercado looked stunned.

His attorney, Robert Schwartz, said he had warned Mercado that the best outcome was likely a hung jury following emotional testimony from victims' family members during the sentencing phase of the trial.

"Some jurors were so moved I thought they would never be willing to give life without parole," Schwartz said.

Schwartz said he believed the jury was swayed by a county jail chaplain who testified to the "process of redemption" that Mercado underwent while imprisoned. Mercado's wife's family also testified that Mercado lived a crime-free existence for more than a decade after he fled the United States to the Philippines.

While in the Philippines, he "lived a righteous life. He rejected a life of crime," Schwartz said.]

[Updated at 4:20 p.m.: Prosecutor Hoon Chun said the verdict is disappointing to the victims' families, who still have not recovered from the slayings.

Mercado was convicted in connection to eight murders and 10 shootings. Although two were gang-related, the six others were "completely innocent," Chun said. 

He also dismissed the argument that Mercado had redeemed himself -- and said that he used a false identity and even deceived his wife while fleeing to the Philippines to escape punishment.

"He was on the run for 10 years and then fought deportation for a little less than two years," Chun said. "I'm not sure you can call that redemption."]

The gang initially participated in property crimes that targeted Southeast Asian immigrant businesses. But their downfall began when they started targeting rivals, police said.

Mercado was convicted in connection with the April 1995 execution-style slaying of two rival gang members in Van Nuys and a car-to-car triple fatal shooting in August 1995 on the 10 Freeway in El Monte.

Prosecutors also presented evidence that Mercado went to a party in March 1996 and pulled the pin on what he believed was a live grenade, throwing it into a crowd while co-conspirators opened fire on party-goers, killing one and injuring two others. He was also linked to at least two other slayings.

[Corrected at 4:25 p.m.: An earlier version of this post gave an incorrect age for Mercado. He is 37.]


Asian Boyz gang shot-caller convicted of eight slayings

-- Shan Li

Photo: Marvin Mercado shown in a police photo in 1997. Credit: Los Angeles Times

Comments () | Archives (26)

He got what he deserves...


A guy is 27 years old and was a "shot caller" for a gang back in the mid 90's?

How the hell old was he back in the mid 90's? His co-defendants were convicted in 1999 when this guy was ...15? How old was he when the crimes were committed?

cause death is too good for him?

They act in YOUR name!

Oh great another weirdo freak we have to support forever too bad we just can't send him back to the Philippines and make sure he never gets back into the U.S. He only killed other gang bangers so that doesn't make his crime that bad.

So, Marvin Mercado, 27, was ordering hits (1995), when he was 15 or 16 years old??? Really?

To bad he will still be a shot-caller from inside prison. Just get him one of the cell phones that are getting into prison. Stop all face to face visits. It would sure cure a lot of problems & deaths.

Deport that Mex...Nevermind.

Am I to understand that this guy was a gang leader when he was 11?

Are u sure he's 27 and not 37?

Quality reporting starts with quality reporters...so sad what the LA Times has become.

He should be drawn and quartered. Short of that, there's no justice here. This scum bag should die, not live. He shouldn't be able to play basketball, eat burritos, watch American Idol and the Lakers. Death and quickly is all he deserves.


A very good choice by the jury. Let the punk sit in prison for the rest of his life to think about things. He doesn't deserve the quick way out, although it would probably be many years before his time to get the injection. Hopefully he isn't able to get access to a cell phone like some other inmates, i.e., Charles Manson. Hmm, he's 27, so he must have been only 14 or 15 when all this stuff went down...that's very interesting.

How can he only be 27 if that happened in 1996?

Make him work with Charlie Sheen

Personally, I think life in prison is cruel and unusual punishment. It would be more humane to cut this guy up into little pieces and feed him to the fishes! It would probably be the first time he ever did anything useful in his whole disgusting worthless life.

He's 37, not 27...

If he was 11 during that 1995 shooting, then he's a REAL G

Eight murders and he doesn't get the death penalty?

What a crock!

This maggot deserves death and nothing less!

Public hanging! Why waste money on this insect? Unbelievable!

Great,now we get to feed this worthless dead beat gangster.Hang him,and send the new gangsters a message.

Just remember when you go to work and pay taxes this scum will be draining our system for the rest of his life. Food, shelter and health coverage.

life in prison is better than death penalty because he'll have lots and lots of time to rot there.

With death penalty it's over in minutes.

May he rot in hell.

Love knowing he'll never breath a free breath of air again.

My sister's old highschool boyfriend John was one of the 3 victims in the 1995 car to car slaying mentioned in the article, he was the driver. This has been a very strange occurrence in my life. I'm a doctor and a person of science so I don't really believe in "psychic" but something is just very odd. After John's death I was very busy for a couple of years and had no time for news or TV but one day out of the blue I bought a copy of LA times and there was a picture of a car and an article regarding some shooters being caught. I instinctively thought of John's case but I couldn't be sure. That night I was sitting at home and for no apparent reason I turned on the TV and on it at that exact time (and the TV was on a local news program with reporting of the same thing and I was certain they've caught the shooters in John's murder.

Now 16 long years later, I was just clicking around online and came about this article. I didn't realize what I was reading until I got to the very bottom of the article. I am just speechless. Seems like this guy is the mastermind behind the shooters and he too has been caught and brought to justice. I believe John led me to all these news because he wants us to know. I don't know if there's anything beyond death but there is something out there, there are just way too many coincidences. Rest in peace John.

This piece of worthless human trash participated in the murders of innocent people as well as gang members, while out on the streets. At a minimum, he should be destroyed at the first opportunity. Hopefully, someone in prison will do the job the state should have done. After that, he will appear before the Judge of us all, and his punishment will far exceed anything we could do to him.

there was reason to belive he didnt personally actually killed anybody..he just planned most of the crimes..my cousin is actually incarcerated with 4 of his co defendants at centinela state prison..people change you know!

1 2 | »


Recommended on Facebook


In Case You Missed It...


About L.A. Now
L.A. Now is the Los Angeles Times’ breaking news section for Southern California. It is produced by more than 80 reporters and editors in The Times’ Metro section, reporting from the paper’s downtown Los Angeles headquarters as well as bureaus in Costa Mesa, Long Beach, San Diego, San Francisco, Sacramento, Riverside, Ventura and West Los Angeles.
Have a story tip for L.A. Now?
Can I call someone with news?
Yes. The city desk number is (213) 237-7847.


Get Alerts on Your Mobile Phone

Sign me up for the following lists: