California court OKs death penalty in ’80s sex slave murders

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SACRAMENTO, Calif. — The California Supreme Court docket on Thursday upheld the conviction and demise penalty for certainly one of two males implicated in at the least 11 infamous horrific torture-slayings within the mid-Eighties during which the duo stored their victims hidden in a secret bunker within the Northern California woods.

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Thirty-seven years later, authorities are nonetheless attempting to determine the stays of a few of their victims.

Charles Ng, now 61, was convicted in 1999 of killing six males, three girls and two child boys in 1984 and 1985. He was initially accused of 13 slayings — 12 in Calaveras County and one in San Francisco.

He and his felony companion, Leonard Lake, dedicated a sequence of kidnappings during which they engaged in bondage and sadism ending in homicide. They had been initially suspected of killing as much as 25 folks.

“That is a kind of tales that’s been handed down by means of time on this group,” mentioned Calaveras County Lt. Greg Stark, whose father labored for the division on the time of the slayings. “There’s been wild estimates and there’s been conservative estimates, and actually I don’t assume anyone will ever know, attributable to how they had been disposing of the our bodies.”

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Charles Ng is pictured in a mugshot taken in 2007.
Charles Ng is pictured in a mugshot taken in 2007. Photograph by San Quentin State Jail /Wikipedia

Ng and Lake held their victims in a distant 2 1/2-acre Sierra Nevada fenced compound about 241 kilometres east of San Francisco. It included a bunker with three rooms, two of them behind a hidden doorway. One hidden, locked room was furnished like a cell with a mattress lined with a foam pad, a plastic bucket and a roll of bathroom paper.

Lake killed himself with a cyanide capsule after police arrested him for shoplifting in San Francisco in 1985 and had been questioning him earlier than any our bodies had been discovered.

The justices mentioned in an in depth 181-page evaluation of the case that Ng obtained a good trial, together with a change of venue from Calaveras County to Orange County due to pre-trial publicity.

It was certainly one of California’s longest and most costly trials on the time, costing tens of millions of {dollars}, partly as a result of the courtroom mentioned Ng repeatedly tried to delay and disrupt his personal trial. That included prolonged debates over whether or not he might signify himself and who could be his attorneys.

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The justices unanimously additionally concluded that Ng was correctly extradited after he fled to Canada, the place he was arrested in Calgary, in 1985 for shoplifting and wounding a retailer guard. He fought extradition for six years earlier than the Supreme Court docket of Canada ordered him returned.

The lads incriminated themselves with videotapes of them tormenting sure, terrified girls they used as intercourse slaves earlier than their murders.

Jurors had been proven a tape of 1 girl pleading in useless for the lads to spare her husband and child as Ng lower off her shirt and bra with a knife in entrance of the digicam.

Investigators additionally found piles of charred bones, blood-stained instruments, shallow graves and a 250-page diary stored by Lake.

4 regulation enforcement companies spent 5 weeks scouring the property, in accordance with the courtroom’s detailed description.

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They discovered hundreds of buried enamel and bone fragments all through the property, with at the least 4 of the dental specimens belonging to a toddler beneath age 3. “Many a whole bunch” of the bone fragments had been burned.

Two forensic anthropologists ultimately concluded that the stays belonged to at the least 4 adults, one youngster, and one toddler. Two males had been present in a shallow grave not removed from the property. They’d been sure, gagged and fatally shot.

Officers in Calaveras County final yr exhumed extra bones and different human stays from a crypt in a cemetery the place they’d been stored since Ng’s conviction, in hopes that trendy DNA tracing might reveal their identities.

A sheriff’s chaplain learn a short invocation, and shortly California Division of Justice criminalists and two forensic anthropologists started sorting and analyzing the stays.

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They’re initially hopeful that sufficient viable DNA is left for a comparability, mentioned Stark, however the Division of Justice hasn’t but been in a position to run the comparisons partially due to extra pressing lively circumstances.

Investigators plan to check the DNA to that from cooperating subsequent of kin of the recognized victims, and run it by means of DNA databases in hopes of a comparability.

“Regardless if there are 11 (slayings) or greater than 11, we’re hoping to categorize the stays and if attainable return them to the households to present them their due respect and internment,” Stark mentioned. “If we discover extra identifications, we’ll undoubtedly look into them and their connection to the case.”

Ng joined the Marine Corps after he got here to the US from Hong Kong. He earlier was imprisoned at Leavenworth, Kansas, for weapons theft whereas serving within the Marine Corps.

He and his defence attorneys argued that he was beneath the affect of Lake, an older man and survivalist who they mentioned engineered the serial slayings. Ng denied taking part in lots of the crimes.

His attorneys argued on the time that Ng was formed as a toddler, when he was crushed by his father.

Gov. Gavin Newsom has imposed a moratorium on the demise penalty as long as he’s governor, and Ng nonetheless has the potential for different federal appeals.

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