SANTA ANA — 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 a killing rampage 14 years ago.
"I don't know how to say how our son Charles [got] involved with this thing," Kenneth Ng, 69, said in halting English. "I don't know what to say to you good people."
At times assisted by a Cantonese interpreter, the elder Ng, who flew from Hong Kong to testify, said he meant to bring up his son in a narrow and straight path, which sometimes meant tethering him 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, 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 quietly 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 to] stop me."
Ng, a 38-year-old Hong Kong native and former U.S. Marine, was convicted in February of killing 11 people, including two toddlers in 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 and not to death.
"I do hope I still have him in jail, instead of dead," he said.
Relatives of victims said they were not 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 Ng's victims. But "Charles has to take responsibility for his actions," she added.
Authorities say Ng and his friend Leonard Lake kidnapped and killed their victims for financial gain. The men would collect checks under their victims' identities and sell their 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.
Lake committed suicide shortly after his arrest by swallowing cyanide pills sewn to his lapel. Ng fled to Canada, but was eventually extradited. His case was moved to Orange County in 1994 because of pretrial publicity in Northern California.
In a Wilseyville cabin, authorities found a cinder block bunker where they believe the men kept some of their captives. Inside, they found a small cell with a one-way mirror that allowed someone outside to peer in.