USA: CALIFORNIA: SERIAL KILLER NG SENTENCED TO DEATH

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A serial killer who videotaped victims begging for their lives has been sentenced to death for a spree of sexual torture and murder.

Charles Ng, a 38-year-old Hong Kong immigrant and former Marine, was sentenced on Wednesday, following a conviction for the murders of 11 people.

Despite last-minute attempts to stave off sentencing by claiming he was too tired to proceed and then trying to fire his lawyers, Ng was unable to delay any further the
case which had been pending for 14 years.

Ng's sentencing was rendered in this county courthouse outside Los Angeles.

Ng sat expressionless as sentence was pronounced.

UPSOUND: "It is the order of this court that you shall be punished by death (applause) the death penalty to be inflicted within the walls of the California State Prison at San Quentin, California in the manner prescribed by law."

Families members of Ng's victims cheered and wept upon hearing the verdict.

Absent from the courtroom was Ng's friend Leonard Lake, who killed himself fourteen years ago.

Their capture ended an 11-month killing spree, which included binding their victims and torturing them before their death, and raping the women.

They then ground up their bones, and burned their bodies beyond recognition.

Family members sat through years of gruesome testimony, as Ng repeatedly tried to stall and divert the trial.

Several travelled to court, clutching photos of their murdered relatives, the few mementos left of Ng's victims.

Ng also shown no reaction when they gave tearful speeches about the loss of loved ones.

The brothers, sisters, aunts and uncles, and parents of victims all pleaded with the judge not to spare Ng's life.

SOUNDBITE: (English)
"May God forgive me but I want Charles Ng dead."
SUPER CAPTION: Sharon O'Connor, Mother and Grandmother of Ng's victims

SOUNDBITE: (English)
"The defendant never ever be released from prison and if the only way to ensure this would be to put him to death as the jury voted, do it."
SUPER CAPTION: William Peranteau, Brother of Ng victim

The family members had travelled from their homes in Ohio, Michigan and elsewhere, to hear words they have been longing for more than a decade.

SOUNDBITE: (English)
"The judge has upheld the death penalty, and now I am satisfied that he is going to have to pay for my son's murder. But closure? Never ever will there be closure. There cannot be closure. My son is dead. How can I have closure from that?"
SUPER CAPTION: Lola Stapley, Mother of Murder Victim Scott Stapley

The case has dragged out for more than 14 years, and is one of California's longest murder prosecutions.

Ng fired his attorneys, and an hour before being sentenced, tried to fire his replacement attorneys.

He even tried to cause a mistrial, by apparently calling a juror at home from his prison.

But Calaveras County District Attorney Peter Smith doesn't see the long and winding trial as a failure of the justice system.

SOUNDBITE: (English)
"Well I think if you have patience it works, the criminal justice system. You have to have patience with the system and you have to realise that human beings are running the system. And I think it's a good system if you just have patience."
SUPER CAPTION: Calaveras County District Attorney Peter Smith

But like most of the 530 or so men on death row in California, Ng is automatically allowed legal appeals, which could last many years before he is put to death.

SOUNDBITE: (English)
"It'll be another 15 probably before he gets the death sentence. But we'll be there. My mom probably won't be here. But we will. We'll be there when they kill him."
SUPER CAPTION: Sandy Bond, Sister of Murder Victim Brenda O'Connor





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