In an emotional plea to save his son's life, the father of convicted serial killer Charles Ng testified Tuesday that he severely beat Ng as a child and partially blames himself for his son's role in the killing spree 14 years ago.
"I don't know how to say how our son Charles [got] involved with this thing," said Kenneth Ng, 69, in halting English. "I don't know what to say to you good people."
At times assisted by a Cantonese translator, the elder Ng, who flew from Hong Kong to testify, explained he only wanted to raise his son on a straight and narrow path. Sometimes, he said, that meant tethering Charles and whipping him with a stick.
"I tried to bring him up right," he testified. "Unfortunately, I used the wrong way. I thought this was normal. But now I know how wrong I am."
As his father testified, Charles Ng sat with his head bowed. Members of the audience could not see his face, but his attorney, William Kelly, said later that Ng was sobbing quietly. His mother, who is expected to testify today, cried as her husband repeatedly apologized.
"I beat him," said the elder Ng, who frequently choked back tears. "Even my wife tried to stop me. Even my mother-in-law tried and stop me."
Charles Ng, a 38-year-old Hong Kong native and former Marine, was convicted in February of killing 11 people, including two toddlers at a remote cabin in Northern California in the mid-1980s.
The father of the man at the center of one of the longest and costliest murder prosecutions in state history said the ordeal has been hard on his family too.
"The media is all over the place [describing] Charles as a monster," Kenneth Ng said. "Of course, our family feels very bad. . . . Our family feels very shameful, and we feel very sorry."
Ng's father urged the jury to sentence his son to life in prison, not the death penalty.
"I do hope I [will] still have him in jail, instead of dead," he said.
Family members of victims said they weren't swayed by the testimony, but expressed sympathy for Kenneth Ng.
"My heart bleeds for him. It absolutely bleeds for him," said Lola Stapley, whose son Scott Stapley was one of Charles Ng's victims. But "Charles has to take responsibility for his actions," she added.
According to authorities, Ng and his friend, Leonard Lake, kidnapped and killed their victims for financial gain. The pair would collect checks under their victims' identities and sell their personal belongings. In the case of two female victims, Ng and Lake used them as sex slaves before killing them, the prosecution said during Ng's trial.
In the Wilseyville cabin, authorities found a cinder block bunker where they believe the pair kept some of their captives. Inside, they discovered a small 3 1/2-by-6-foot cell with a one-way mirror that allowed viewing from the outside.
Lake committed suicide shortly after his arrest by swallowing cyanide pills sewn to his lapel. Ng fled to Canada, where he was arrested and extradited. His case was moved to Orange County in 1994 because of pretrial publicity in Northern California.