Man sentenced to life in prison for 2003 Miracle Mile triple-murder

September 5, 2014

Robin Kyu Cho (Korea Times file)

LOS ANGELES (CNS) – A man who killed a neighbor, her toddler son and the child’s nanny in a Miracle Mile-area apartment complex more than a decade ago was sentenced today to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Curtis B. Rappe rejected the defense’s motion for a new trial for Robin Kyu Cho, 55, and denied the defendant’s request to delay his sentencing for 30 days.

Cho — who was also ordered to serve an additional 105 years to life in prison — was convicted in July 2012 of first-degree murder for the May 5, 2003, shooting death of 30-year-old Chi Hyon Song and of second-degree murder for killing her 2 1/2-year-old son, Nathan, and his 56-year-old nanny, Eun Sik Min.

The prosecution had sought the death penalty against Cho, but jurors recommended instead that he be sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

Byung Song, whose wife and youngest son were killed, told the judge that he did not see “any sort of remorse” from Cho. Through tears, Song said he believed Cho had sent something to authorities to “confuse the investigation and I, the husband, became the prime suspect in this case and had to endure the life of a prime suspect in this case.”

“The sophistication that he showed in putting the spotlight on me was really difficult and I was emotionally traumatized by it. And even … when the trial had ended, he asked for a new trial,” Song said through a Korean interpreter, adding that he was thankful to those who had brought Cho to justice.

Min’s daughter said, “Growing up with my mom, I didn’t care if we didn’t have enough money … I didn’t need anything else as long as I had her. Now I have everything but her.”

Kris Kim said she used to have long hair that her mother liked to comb. She said she got it cut off the day after her mother’s death and has never let it grow long again.

Deputy District Attorney Frank Santoro told jurors that the killings were “sophisticated and deliberate” and financially motivated, while the defense maintained Cho’s innocence.

Song and her son lived with her husband and the couple’s older son in the same apartment complex as Cho and his family.

Song’s mother testified in 2012 that she discovered the victims and that the gruesome image of the crime scene still troubled her. Song was found dead on the bathroom floor, her face and hands bound with a strong packing tape, and her son and the nanny were found dead in the bathtub.

Cho was arrested in March 2009 when the results of DNA testing on the fingertips of latex gloves that stuck to tape used on Chi Song’s face were compared to the DNA profile created after he pleaded guilty in to one count each of selling unregistered securities and grand theft and was sentenced to five years probation.

Jurors did not hear about that June 2008 conviction because it occurred after the killings.

Outside court after the sentencing, Santoro said there was a “huge financial motive” for the killings and speculated that Cho may have been interrupted in “a robbery gone bad.”

The prosecutor said Cho apparently perceived that Song and her husband, who both drove BMWs, were well-off financially, and he was running a collapsing Ponzi scheme at the time.