LOS ANGELES (AP) — Survivors of a mother, her toddler and the child's nanny slain 11 years ago wept in court Friday describing their anguish as if it had been yesterday, watching the sentencing of a former neighbor to life in prison without possibility of parole.
"Finally, it's here. The time is here," said Byung Song, the widower of 30-year-old Chi Hyon Song who also lost his two-year-old son Nathan in 2003. He covered his face with his hands as he sobbed and said he had endured six years of being considered the prime suspect in the murders until Robin Kyo Cho was arrested.
"I was emotionally traumatized," he told the judge. "... I loved them with all my heart."
Cho, 55, an insurance salesman who lived in the same building as the Songs, was convicted of the killings two years ago. But his sentencing was delayed by numerous motions by Cho, who maintained his innocence.
Prosecutors didn't supply a motive, but they tied Cho to the killings through DNA on latex gloves that stuck to tape used to bind Song.
Cho tried again Friday, asking for another 30-day continuance to raise new issues. But the judge refused, saying there was nothing more to consider.
"He had the gall to ask for a new trial," Song said. "...The dirty scum."
Kris Kim, daughter of the 56-year-old nanny, Eun Sik Min, told of a mother who loved brushing her long hair. After her mother's death, she said she cut her hair short because "I felt my heart was cut off and would never grow back again."
Now married with children, she said, "I have everything but her ... I go to bed praying I can see my mom in my dreams."
Other family members sobbed in the courtroom gallery.
Prosecutors tied Cho to the killings through a DNA sample he provided in another case when he previously pleaded guilty to orchestrating a $2 million Ponzi scheme.
Outside court, Deputy District Attorney Frank Santoro said authorities suspected "a huge financial motive."
After the Ponzi scheme was discovered, he said, "His world was collapsing. He lost his home. The jury heard of his final despair."
He said that Cho knew the Songs were wealthy and may have broken into their place in an attempted robbery, was surprised in the act and committed the murders.
In addition to life without parole, Superior Court Judge Curtis Rappe imposed additional terms totaling 105 years to life.
Cho's lawyer Seymour Amster declined comment outside court, but he told the judge an appeal will be filed.