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Prosecutor Says Ng Took Active Role in Killings

California and the West

January 26, 1999|RICHARD MAROSI | TIMES STAFF WRITER

SANTA ANA — Accused serial murderer Charles Ng forged an "evil bond" with an accomplice as they meticulously planned a killing rampage that claimed a dozen victims, a prosecutor told jurors Monday as one of the state's longest and costliest homicide trials neared its close.

Deputy State Atty. Gen. Sharlene Honnaka focused on countering assertions by Ng's defense attorney that the murders were the work of Ng's alleged accomplice, the late Leonard Lake. Honnaka told the Orange County Superior Court jury the evidence showed that Ng and Lake were equally responsible for the string of murders at a remote Northern California cabin in 1984 and 1985.

Highlighting the strongest evidence in the case, Honnaka asked jurors to once again view chilling videotapes that show Ng and Lake allegedly threatening to kill two frightened women unless they became the men's sex slaves.

The two women in the videotapes--identified as Kathleen Allen and Brenda O'Connor--disappeared shortly after the recordings were made, and they are presumed among the dead. The videotapes include both men making references to other people allegedly murdered at the cabin. Honnaka cited this as evidence of Ng's active involvement in the slayings.

"Think of the trust that there must exist between two people to make a videotape that is capturing you and capturing your cohort with a victim, and a confession to having killed," she told jurors.

Ng's defense team may present its closing argument as early as today. Ng's attorneys have said that Lake, a survivalist who killed himself after being arrested in 1985, was solely responsible for the murders. The charred remains of at least a dozen bodies were found buried on the property in Wilseyville.

Ng, 38, a San Francisco man, fled to Canada after Lake's arrest and was extradited in 1991. The trial was moved to Orange County because of extensive pretrial publicity in Northern California.

Ng, who faces the death penalty if convicted, observed attentively during Monday's hearing, occasionally scribbling notes on a pad.

The prosecutor portrayed Ng and Lake as clever plotters who lured victims to the cabin with offers of free marijuana or a chance to target shoot. After robbing and killing them, Honnaka said, the partners would try to cover their tracks by making it appear that the victims had moved from their homes.

Honnaka also presented cartoon drawings she said were by Ng, calling them a confession in the defendant's own hand. One shown to the jury contained sketches of the victims, with "No kill, no thrill. No gun, no fun," scrawled along the side.

"This is an admission by this defendant that he killed those people," she said.

Several victims' family members attended the session, occasionally crying or clutching each others' hands for support.

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