Pinoy gang leader may get death penalty in US

By Steve Angeles, ABS-CBN North America News Bureau

Posted at Mar 03 2011 07:29 PM | Updated as of Mar 04 2011 03:29 AM

LOS ANGELES, California - Sentencing for the convicted ring leader of the Asian  Boyz, an Asian American gang that once terrorized Southern California in the mid 90’s began Monday morning.

Marvin Mercado appeared in court wearing a suit. He stayed silent the whole day, sometimes glancing at the jurors.

Mercado faces a possible death sentence for 8 murders and 10 attempted murders that took place from 1995 to 1996.

In all the cases, Mercado either killed the victims himself or aided other gang members. He then fled to the Philippines with his brother Pierre as a fugitive where they were eventually captured in September of 2007.

Deputy District Attorney Hoon Chun argued Monday afternoon that a death sentence would bring justice to families that have waited 16 years. He showed the jury pictures of the murder scenes during his final statement.

Chun pointed out that one incident alone wherein he murdered 2 teenagers would give him a minimum life sentence without parole.

He said the other 6 murders would almost be some sort of freebie if Mercado did not get the death penalty.

Meanwhile, Mercado’s defense laywer Robert Schwartz pleaded with a jury to spare his life.

Defense Attorney Robert Schwartz said Mercado’s life is worth sparing because he proved he can be a good person when he lived in the Philippines for 10 years under the fake name Mark De Los Angeles.

As De Los Angeles living in Manila, Mercado was incident free, started a family, and owned a fishing business.

During the trial, testimony from his wife’s family claimed he was a “kuya” figure to family members.

On Monday, a prison chaplain testified that Mercado is showing signs of positive change, saying he has become sincere and respectful, and should be allowed to live behind bars.

Another inmate testified Monday morning claiming he overheard Mercado plotting a violent escape with other inmates in May of 2010. The inmate said he heard Mercado talking about securing fake documents for 4 other inmates and that he would flee to the Middle East.

Seven of Mercado’s gang members are currently serving life sentences.