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Jury Urges Death Penalty for Murderer

TIMES STAFF WRITER

A Torrance Superior Court jury Friday recommended the death penalty for a South Los Angeles gang member convicted of murdering a Hawthorne merchant and robbing him of $80,000.

Omar (Chico) Dent III, 28, burst out in anger at jurors as their verdict was announced after one day of deliberations. Many courtroom observers were unsure of exactly what was said, but Deputy Dist. Atty. Bob Martin said Dent yelled: “There’s 100,000 of us,” referring to street gang members.

Judge John P. Shook silenced Dent by hammering his gavel, Martin said. Shook, who can reduce the sentence to life in prison without possibility of parole, ordered Dent back to court on Sept. 23 for sentencing.

Defense attorney Ron Rothman, who represented Dent with attorney William MacCabe, said he was unhappy with the verdict, “but it was a very conscientious jury. . . . This was not a capricious thing.”

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The same jury convicted Dent last week of the Aug. 19, 1988, shooting death and robbery of liquor store owner Byung Jin Kim, who had just withdrawn $80,000 from a Lawndale bank to finance his check-cashing business. After shooting Kim, witnesses said, Dent shoved the dying man aside, jumped into the driver’s seat of Kim’s van and drove into a residential Lawndale neighborhood.

The jury also convicted Dent of kidnaping Kim and of attempted murder and second-degree robbery in the shooting of August Cardino, 44, a former New Jersey police officer who was wounded trying to follow Dent from the murder scene.

Jurors acquitted Dent of additional counts of robbery, kidnaping and assault for an attack on another man outside the same bank a day earlier.


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