Benjamin Kin Ng, 20, a Hong Kong immigrant, was convicted here today of murdering 13 Chinese-Americans in a Seattle gambling club with shots to the head after he tied them up and robbed them of $10,360.
A superior court jury found Ng guilty of 13 counts of aggravated first-degree murder. The same jury will hear evidence Thursday about Ng's youth and mental condition before determining whether he should be sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole or put to death.
The court was packed with relatives of the victims, police detectives and members of Ng's family as the court clerk read "guilty as charged" 13 times. Both the victims' relatives and Ng's family began to cry.
"All right, all right," whispered Bonita Chin, whose father, Henning Chin, was among the 14 middle-aged Chinese-American victims at the Wah Mee gambling club on Feb. 19.
One man, Wai Y. Chin, survived and was the state's main witness.
If Ng is sentenced to death, the execution would be by hanging or lethal injection. The last execution in this state was in 1963, when Joseph Chester Self, convicted of murdering a taxi driver, was hanged.
After court, Ng's sister, Bessie, tried to approach her brother as he sat at the defense table, but was stopped by jail guards, who escorted her weeping from the courtroom. At the door, she was comforted by Kennis Izumi, 19, Ng's girlfriend, who did not reach the court in time to hear the verdict read.
The two stood with arms around each other. As television cameramen encircled them, Izumi screamed, "I hate you all" to reporters.
Ng was arrested while asleep at his home five hours after police pried open the double-locked doors of the Wah Mee Club and found the 13 victims inside on the floor, all but one of them "hog-tied." All but one had been shot in the head, some at close range.
Chin, the survivor, was shot in the neck and jaw, and passed out until after the robbers had fled. He freed himself, and staggered into the alley where he met a friend who had been banging on the door.
Chin gave police Ng's name from the hospital emergency room. A dealer at the club, Chin testified that three men entered the club, tied him and his friends, robbed them and began shooting.
He said he was able to free himself because when the robbers were tying him he told them, "No need to tie so tight, I'm an old man."
The state contended that the sole motive for the shootings was robbery. Police found $10,360 in a shoe box in Ng's closet when he was arrested. Police found a palm print from one of the victims on one $100 bill that was in the shoe box.
Defense attorney John Henry Browne conceded from the outset that his client participated in the robbery and was guilty of first-degree murder, but not aggravated first-degree murder, which would save him from the death penalty. If Ng had been convicted of the lesser charge, he would have been sentenced to life in prison with the possibility of parole.
A second suspect, Kwan Fai (Willie) Mak, 22, also has been charged, and is scheduled to go to trial on Sept. 12. A third suspect, Wai-Chiu (Tony) Ng, 26, has been charged, but still is at large. He is not related to Benjamin Kin Ng.