A 34-year-old man who killed four innocent people outside a Northridge boarding home in 2012 was sentenced to death Friday.
Ka Pasasouk was convicted in November of four counts of first-degree murder for the Dec. 2, 2012, shooting deaths of Teofilo Navales, 49, of Castaic; Robert Calabia, 34, of Los Angeles; Amanda Ghossein, 24, of Monterey Park; and Jennifer Kim, 26, of Montebello.
The same jury recommended a month later that he be sent to death row.
“I’m so happy that justice was served today,” Sophia Verrigni, the 19-year-old sister of Ghossein, said outside court. “This has changed our family forever — and it has changed my perspective on everything. I’m scared to go out of my house because this kind of horrible, pointless crime can happen to anyone.”
Deputy District Attorney Dan Akemon told jurors that Pasasouk was “fueled by drugs and alcohol” and had the “perfect opportunity for vengeance,” along with the perfect opportunity for a robbery, when he came across Navales — with whom he had an altercation months earlier — in a dark area and shot him twice.
The motive for killing Calabia, Ghossein and Kim, the prosecutor said, was to eliminate witnesses to Navales’ murder.
In denying a motion to reduce the jury’s death recommendation, Superior Court Judge Larry Paul Fidler said Pasasouk “earned” the ultimate penalty by “waylaying, executing and assassinating four innocent people.”
Following tearful victim impact statements from more than a half-dozen family members, Fidler ordered that Pasasouk be “put to death within the walls of San Quentin State Prison.”
The heavyset defendant, his head shaved on the sides exposing neck and facial tattoos, showed no visible reaction during the hearing, never turning toward the families of his victims. He declined a chance to address the court.
In requesting “mercy” from the judge, defense attorney James Goldstein said his client’s intelligence level was “near retardation,” and he had been emotionally and physically abused as a child in his native Laos.
“Is it really shocking or surprising the result that came from that?” Goldstein said.
The judge said that during his career, he has seen “the unspeakable things that are done to children,” but that is “not an excuse for killing other people.”
In addition to the murder counts, Pasasouk was convicted of one count each of attempted murder and possession of a firearm by a felon, along with assault with a semiautomatic firearm, for confronting other people nearby shortly before the killings.
Jurors found true the special circumstance allegation of multiple murders, triggering a penalty trial in which they were tasked with determining whether to recommend death or life imprisonment without parole.
During the penalty trial, Akemon told the panel that Pasasouk has a long “resume of violence” and has spent 20 years in and out of juvenile and adult correctional facilities.
“He has thumbed his nose at society at every turn in favor of leading a thug life … He is a hardened career criminal,” Akemon said. “Tell him he deserves the death penalty for what he has done … In this case, there is only one just punishment, and that is the death penalty.”
The prosecutor said Pasasouk robbed the four victims of their futures, fled the crime scene and discarded the murder weapon in an effort to get away with the killings. He was arrested two days later at a hotel-casino near the Las Vegas Strip.
Another of Pasasouk’s attorneys, Larry Sperber, countered that justice has already been served by the jury finding Pasasouk guilty of the crimes.
He told jurors that his client was born at a refugee camp in Thailand and “is not a normal, healthy person.” He acknowledged that Pasasouk “did some terrible things” and told jurors that he was asking for justice but not mercy for his client.
As early as age 14, Pasasouk was described in one report as having a “very dysfunctional and chaotic early life,” with parents unable to be contacted by a probation officer when their son was 15, Sperber said.
He said that his client has a well-documented history of having a lack of learning skills, suicidal tendencies, alcoholism and drug abuse, and had begged not to be paroled from prison in October 2011 because he knew that he needed help and wanted to remain behind bars.
Last year, family members of the victims filed a lawsuit against Los Angeles County District Attorney Jackie Lacey and Probation Chief Jerry Powers, alleging they didn’t do enough to protect the public from Pasasouk once he was released from prison in January 2012.
A judge dismissed the civil rights case in August, ruling that the government officials were immune from liability.
—Staff and wire reports
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