Orange County District Attorney
Tony Rackauckas, District Attorney
401 Civic Center Drive West
Santa Ana, CA 92701
For Immediate Release
Susan Kang Schroeder
ASIAN CRIMINAL STREET GANG MEMBER FACES DEATH PENALTY TRIAL FOR MURDERING ONE AND ATTEMPTING TO MURDER SIX OTHERS IN
UNPROVOKED CAFÉ SHOOTING
SANTA ANA – An Asian criminal street gang member faces a death penalty trial Monday for murdering one woman and attempting to murder six others in an unprovoked shooting at a Cypress café. Stephenson Choi Kim, 31, San Gabriel, is charged with one felony count of murder, six felony counts of attempted murder, one felony count of street terrorism, and sentencing enhancements for murder for a criminal street gang purpose, the personal discharge of a firearm, discharge of a firearm by a gang member causing death, vicarious discharge of a firearm by a gang member causing great bodily injury, and criminal street gang activity. The Orange County District Attorney’s Office is seeking the death penalty in this case. Opening statements are expected to begin Monday, Jan. 31, 2011, at 9:00 a.m. in Department C-44, Central Justice Center, Santa Ana.
Six co-defendants face the same charges as Stephenson Kim in this case and a maximum sentence of life in state prison without the possibility of parole if convicted. The co-defendants are Robin Kim, 28, Cerritos, Christopher Ung, 27, Lakewood, Wilson Sun, 28, Lakewood, Chakris Kanchanapoomi, 27, Long Beach, Ashil Manek Nair, 26, Cerritos, and Glenn Lamuel Watkins, 24, Lakewood.
On March 14, 2004, Stephenson Kim is accused of drinking at a home with several members of his Asian criminal street gang including Robin Kim, Nair, Sun, Watkins, Kanchanapoomi, and Ung. The defendants are accused of leaving the home in several cars armed with firearms with the intention of finding rival gang members to fight.
The defendants are accused of driving to 5th Wave Café in Cypress to look for rival gang members. Inside the café, 22-year-old Venus Hyun was enjoying dinner with six friends. Nair and Watkins are accused of entering the café and approaching the victims to ask if any were gang members. Victim Richard Woodhead explained that he had previously been connected to a criminal street gang, but said that he “didn’t bang anymore” and the two gangs were not enemies. Nair and Watkins are accused of leaving the café and telling Stephenson Kim about the conversation they had inside.
Stephenson Kim is accused of taking a firearm and entering the crowded café. The other defendants are accused of waiting outside as Robin Kim drove to the rear entrance to wait for Stephenson Kim. Stephenson Kim is accused of approaching the table where Hyun was sitting with her friends and beginning to shoot at the seven people at the table. Stephenson Kim is accused of murdering Hyun by shooting her in the back. The bullet entered her body, bounced off her shoulder blade, and ultimately lodged in her brain. Hyun collapsed and died a few hours later at the hospital.
Stephenson Kim is accused of also shooting Jean Lee in the back. The bullet went through the victim’s body and exited her chest. Stephenson Kim is accused of shooting Michael Paek in the hand and John Chung in the arm. When Ronald Woodhead attempted to wrestle the firearm from the defendant, Stephenson Kim is accused of shooting the victim in the stomach.