From staff and wire reports:
LOS ANGELES — A judge Wednesday sentenced founding member of an Asian street gang convicted of murdering eight people — including three teenagers shot to death on a freeway in El Monte — to spend the rest of his life behind bars.
Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Robert Perry sentenced Marvin Mercado, 37, to eight consecutive life terms in prison, Los Angeles County District Attorney’s officials said in a written statement. A jury recommended life imprisonment, as opposed to death, earlier this month.
The jury convicted Mercado, whom officials described as a “shot caller” in the Asian Boyz street gang, in February of eight counts of murder and 10 counts of attempted murder. The jury also found true special allegations of gang involvement, gun use and multiple murder.
“The charges stem from the defendant’s participation in six gang-motivated shootings between April 1995 and March 1996,” according to the District Attorney’s Office statement.
“To escape prosecution, the defendant fled the country and lived in the Philippines under a false name for approximately 12 years.”
He was arrested in the Philippines in 2007, then deported to the U.S. to face trial in mid-2009.
While Mercado remained on the run, seven co-defendants were convicted in 2009 after a six-month trial in 1999. All were sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.
Among the victims of Mercado and his cohorts were Cheng Peng, 18, Paul Vu, 16, and Ben Liao, 16, who were shot to death in a car-to-car attack on the 10 Freeway in El Monte on Aug. 1, 1995.
Officials said they were mistaken for members of a rival street gang when three cars filled with Asian Boyz gang members followed them away from a cafe on Peck Road and opened fire on them on the westbound 10 Freeway near Temple City Boulevard.
The crimes took place in Canoga Park, El Monte, Mission Hills, Reseda and Van Nuys.