Co-founder of Asian Boyz gang sentenced to life in prison without parole
The co-founder of the Asian Boyz gang was sentenced Wednesday to life in prison without parole in connection with a spree of at least eight slayings and 10 shootings a decade ago in the San Fernando and San Gabriel valleys.
Marvin Mercado, 37, was sentenced by Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Robert Perry to eight consecutive terms of life in prison without the possibility of parole in addition to 200 years to life.
Mercado, who eluded authorities for more than a decade by escaping to the Philippines, was convicted on Feb. 16 of eight counts of first-degree murder and 10 counts of attempted murder with additional gun and gang allegations. Jurors also found true a special-circumstance allegation of multiple murders.
His seven co-defendants -- Bunthoeun Roeung, Sothi Menh, David Evangalista, Roatha Buth, Son Thanh Bui, Ky Tony Ngo, Kimorn Nuth -- were convicted in 1999 after a joint six-month trial.
The Asian Boyz gang grew out of a fateful meeting between Mercado and fellow Cleveland High School student Sothi Mehn in the late 1980s, authorities said.
The gang initially participated in property crimes that targeted Southeast Asian immigrant business people. 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 San Bernardino Freeway in El Monte, authorities said.
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.
-- Andrew Blankstein
Photo: Marvin Mercado is shown in court with his attorney, Donald Calabria, during sentencing in his murder trial Wednesday in Los Angeles. Credit: Nick Ut / Associated Press