January Trial Set for 4 in Slaying of Honor Student : Law: The proceeding for teen-agers charged in the 1992 death of Orange resident Stuart Tay is postponed in response to a defense request.
Four teen-agers charged with murder in the death of Orange honors student Stuart A. Tay were ordered Monday to stand trial in January, a little more than a year after the 17-year-old was bludgeoned and buried in a Buena Park back yard.
The trial for the four defendants in the New Year’s Eve slaying was scheduled to begin Monday, but Superior Court Judge Kathleen E. O’Leary granted a defense request for a postponement until Jan. 10.
Robert Chien-nan Chan, 18, Mun Bong Kang, 18, and Kirn Kim, 17, all of Fullerton, and Abraham Acosta, 16, of Buena Park, are charged with first-degree murder.
A fifth youth, Charles Bae Choe, 17, also of Fullerton, has pleaded guilty to a role in the slaying and will be a key prosecution witness.
Choe has told police that Chan and Acosta beat the Foothill High School student with a sledgehammer and baseball bats before Chan poured rubbing alcohol down Tay’s throat and taped his mouth shut, according to police reports. Tay was found buried in Acosta’s back yard.
Authorities allege that the defendants--all Sunny Hills High School students--were planning a computer heist with Tay. Authorities contend that the defendants lured Tay to his death after learning that he had lied to them about his name and residence and they had begun to suspect that he may have been planning to back out of the scheme.
During nearly three hours of pretrial motions Monday, Marshall Schulman, defense attorney for Chan--the alleged mastermind of the fatal beating--disclosed that he may attempt to attack Choe’s credibility by questioning him about an incident in which Choe allegedly came to school with a bloody knife.
“It was shown to a girl by Choe, who indicated that he had used it,” Schulman said.
Deputy Dist. Atty. Lewis R. Rosenblum declined to discuss the alleged incident but said it took place long before the Tay slaying and is unrelated to it.
Schulman told the judge that a Sunny Hills High School teacher, Terry Fine, had heard the story from the teen-age girl but was not cooperating with his request to give the girl’s name.
O’Leary issued a warrant for the teacher but postponed ordering Fine to appear before her. O’Leary told Schulman that he must file a formal request to seek the information from Fine.
Fine did not return phone calls seeking comment. Sunny Hills High School Principal George Giokaris also declined to comment.
Monday’s court session, a continuation of a hearing begun Friday, offered glimpses into possible trial strategies. Defense attorneys for Acosta and Kim indicated that they are seeking psychiatric evaluations of their clients, possibly setting the stage for a defense focusing on their clients’ mental capacities.
The attorneys have declined to discuss their strategies.
O’Leary also rejected a request by Schulman to allow Chan to stand trial alone. Schulman said he fears that co-defendants will attempt to depict Chan as the “heavy.”
Schulman, who alleges in court records that Kang may be a gang member, also alleged that Acosta may have a sordid background.
“Mr. Acosta has previously indicated he has killed others by duct tape, alcohol, beating and burying,” Schulman said.
Rosenblum said such claims have been investigated but not substantiated.