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FOUNTAIN VALLEY : L.A. Man Sentenced to Life in Computer Store Slaying

October 29, 1994|SUSAN MARQUEZ OWEN

A 21-year-old Los Angeles man was sentenced to life in prison without parole for killing a woman who happened upon an armed robbery in 1991 at a Fountain Valley computer store.

After hearing an emotional letter from the dead woman's son, Orange County Superior Court Judge Jean Rheinheimer said society should not become so inured to violent crimes that the victim's suffering is forgotten.

"The terror must be real and there when you have a gun shoved in your face and know you may have your brains blown away the next moment," she said.

Kathy Lee, an executive secretary at Hughes Aircraft in El Segundo and a mother of two, was shot in the head in the parking lot of Comp USA when she came to pick up her teen-age son who worked at the store. Prosecutors believe, according to court documents, that Lee was shot point-blank, "execution-style," by Nokkuwa (Pretty Boy) Ervin when he spotted her walking toward the building. She had surprised him and two cohorts who were robbing the store.

Employees inside the store, including Lee's younger son who was 18 at the time, had been gagged and handcuffed to a restroom rail, but were not hurt.

Lee's older son, Joseph Lee of Memphis, Tenn., had asked the judge for the maximum sentence in a letter read in court by the dead woman's best friend, Laura Luft.

"My mother and I had a relationship that was not only that of mother and son, but also the best of friends," the letter read in part. "Now all I have left of my mother are memories, and that's all I will ever have. . . . The night Nokkuwa Ervin took my mother's life, he also took a part of mine."

Ervin's attorney said he plans to appeal.

Ervin was the second defendant in the case to receive a life term. A third defendant, William Clark, is awaiting trial. He is charged with Lee's murder and with ordering the killing of a prime witness in the Lee case. Deputy Dist. Atty. Rick King announced Friday that he plans to seek the death penalty for Clark.

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