Man pleads guilty to five California killings, arson in 2008

Reuters News
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Posted: Jul 24, 2015 8:11 PM

(Reuters) - A man has pleaded guilty to stabbing and bludgeoning to death two men, a woman and her two children before torching her Los Angeles-area home in 2008, prosecutors said on Friday.

The Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office said in a statement that Steve Kwon, 44, entered his plea late on Thursday as a jury was being selected for his upcoming trial.

His friend, co-defendant Jae Shim, 45, had already admitted to lying in wait to kill the victims, then using a Samurai sword and baseball bat to stab and beat them to death in June 2008, prosecutors said.

The bodies of Shim's former spouse, Jenny Young Park, 34, her 13-year-old daughter, Jamie, her 11-year-old son, Justin, and a 60-year-old relative, Joseph Ciganek, were found in the ruins of a home they shared in the desert community of Quartz Hill, north of Los Angeles.

The remains of Park's boyfriend, 34-year-old Si Young Yoon, who had been missing since the day of the slayings, were found in Mexico in December by authorities acting on information Shim provided as part of his plea agreement, prosecutors said.

Prosecutors said Shim grew enraged upon learning of Park's engagement to Yoon and convinced Kwon to help in the murders. The pair also aimed to kill Ciganek's wife, who was also Park's cousin, but she was not at home at the time of the murders.

They are set to appear in court for sentencing on Aug. 21, prosecutors said. Shim faces five consecutive life terms without the possibility of parole after skirting a possible death sentence by testifying against his companion, and Kwon faces 125 years to life.

(Reporting by Curtis Skinner in San Francisco; Editing by Eric Beech)