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Man found guilty in '03 Miracle Mile triple murder

June 26, 2012 |  4:12 pm

Robin Kyu Cho on trial for the 2003 slaying of a woman, her child and a nanny.

A man was found guilty of murder in the shooting deaths of a 2-year-old boy, his mother and the child’s nanny in a Miracle Mile apartment nine years ago.

Robin Kyu Cho, 53, could face the death penalty for the 2003 killings, to which he was connected through DNA evidence six years after the victims were found shot and killed in the bathroom of the family’s apartment. Cho lived three floors below the victims, on the ground floor of the apartment complex.

The genetic material was recovered on the torn tips of a latex glove found stuck to packing tape that was used to gag and bind the 30-year-old mother.

During the trial, which began in early May, a prosecutor narrated for jurors the day’s events using surveillance camera images, crime scene photos and reconstruction experts. The child and nanny were probably shot first in the bathtub, with the 56-year-old nanny, Eun-sik Min, shielding the toddler with her body. The mother, Chi Hyon Song, probably walked in unexpectedly on the killer, who taped her mouth and wrists before shooting her in the head.

When photos of the child slumped over the nanny in a bloodied white tub were shown in the first days of trial, one juror sobbed uncontrollably. She later asked to be excused from the case, citing emotional issues.

What the prosecutor struggled to explain, a point the defense attorney highlighted, was a motive that could have led Cho, an insurance salesman and a married father of two with no record of violence in his past, to commit so brutal a crime.

In closing arguments, Deputy L.A. County Dist. Atty. Frank Santoro told the seven-woman, five-man panel that the law does not require the prosecution to prove a motive for murder. No one may ever know why, but DNA evidence and Cho’s statements in police interviews point to the man’s guilt, the prosecutor said.

“Who cares why Mr. Cho committed this murder?” he said. “He put on those gloves for whatever reason, he went into that house for whatever reason, and he pulled the trigger, six times.”

Cho, he said, was a “desperate” man at the time of the killings, going through bankruptcy and facing constant pressure from debtors. Even though nothing was stolen from the Songs’ apartment, Cho’s financial situation may have been a motive, pushing him “over the edge,” Santoro told jurors.

Andrew Flier, Cho’s defense attorney, dismissed the suggestion, noting that Cho was never accused of committing the murders for financial gain or during the course of a burglary. Cho faces allegations of personally discharging a firearm and multiple murder, which make him eligible for the death penalty.

“The only desperation I saw in this case is the district attorney’s, to prove the case,” he said. The prosecutor, Flier said, “knows that the why can never be answered, and it shows Mr. Cho is innocent.”

The defense attorney also questioned the genetic evidence. Because the material tested was a mixture including more than one person’s DNA, including Chi Hyon Song’s, it is less reliable and more subject to interpretation, Flier contended. 

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 --Victoria Kim

 Photo: Robin Kyu Cho on trial for the 2003 slaying of a woman, her child and a nanny. Credit: Al Seib / Los Angeles Times

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