For Immediate Release
Susan Kang Schroeder
GANG MEMBER SENTENCED TO LIFE WITHOUT PAROLE PLUS ADDITIONAL 255 YEARS TO LIFE FOR MURDERING WOMAN AND ATTEMPTING TO MURDER SIX OTHERS IN UNPROVOKED CAFÉ SHOOTING
SANTA ANA – An Asian criminal street gang member was sentenced Friday to life in state prison without the possibility of parole plus an additional 255 years to life for murdering one woman and attempting to murder six other people in an unprovoked shooting at a Cypress café. Stephenson Choi Kim, 31, San Gabriel, was found guilty by a jury March 14, 2011, of 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. He was sentenced on April 27, 2012.
Six co-defendants testified in the trial against Kim and all pleaded guilty to one felony count of involuntary manslaughter with a sentencing enhancement for committing a crime for the benefit of a criminal street gang. Co-defendants Robin Kim, 29, Cerritos, was sentenced to 11 years in state prison, Christopher Ung, 28, Lakewood, was sentenced six years in state prison, Wilson Sun, 29, Lakewood, was sentenced seven years in state prison, Chakris Kanchanapoomi, 28, Long Beach, was sentenced six years in state prison, Ashil Manek Nair, 27, Cerritos, was sentenced eight years in state prison, and Glenn Lamuel Watkins, 25, Lakewood, was sentenced six years in state prison.
On March 14, 2004, Stephenson Kim was drinking at a home with several members of his Asian criminal street gang including Robin Kim, Nair, Sun, Watkins, Kanchanapoomi, and Ung. The defendants left the home in several cars armed with firearms with the intent to fight with rival gang members.
At the 5th Wave Café in Cypress, 22-year-old Venus Hyun was enjoying dinner with six friends. Nair and Watkins entered the café and approached 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 left the café and told Stephenson Kim about the conversation they had inside.
Stephenson Kim took a firearm and entered the crowded café. The other defendants waited outside as Robin Kim drove to the rear entrance to wait for Stephenson Kim. Stephenson Kim approached the table where Hyun was sitting with her friends and began to shoot at the seven people at the table. Stephenson Kim murdered 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 also shot Jean Lee in the back. The bullet went through the victim’s body and exited her chest. Stephenson Kim shot Michael Paek in the hand and John Chung in the arm. When Ronald Woodhead attempted to wrestle the firearm from the defendant, Stephenson Kim shot the victim in the stomach. These four victims survived the shootings. Stephenson Kim missed victims Richard Woodhead and Kung Yoo as he shot at the group of friends.