A 58-year-old man who fatally shot a friend of 40 years in the back of his head in Anaheim seven years ago will get another shot at reducing his 10-year prison term because of a Fourth District Court of Appeal ruling Monday.
Beong Kwun Cho, who was convicted of voluntary manslaughter July 21, 2016, could have faced up to 21 years in prison or as little as six years behind bars. Former Orange County Superior Court Judge Thomas Goethals, who is now a Fourth District Court of Appeal justice, decided on the middle term in September 2016.
The justices ruled that a new law gives judges discretion to strike a sentencing enhancement for use of a gun in a manslaughter. The justices ordered Cho be given another sentencing hearing in light of the new law.
Cho, who came to the U.S. from South Korea legally on a work visa that expired, will be deported when he has completed his sentence, Senior Deputy District Attorney Scott Simmons said when the defendant was sentenced.
Cho claimed the victim, Yeon Woo Lee, a childhood friend, “had repeatedly prodded him over the course of about 18 months to help Lee commit surrogate suicide,” according to the appellate court ruling.
“Lee devised a complicated scenario to make his death look like a robbery, or an accident, and he purchased a gun,” the justices said. “On Jan. 24, 2011, Lee put his plan into motion.”
Cho “hesitated,” prompting Lee to say he raped Cho’s wife and he intended to rape Cho’s daughter, according to the justices. Then Cho pulled the trigger, the justices said.
Cho’s wife testified that Lee had forced her to have sex with him three times, Simmons said.
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