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Honors Student Convicted in Ambush Killing

May 4, 1994 GMT

SANTA ANA, Calif. (AP) _ A straight-A student was convicted of murder for masterminding the ambush killing of another honors student suspected of tipping off police about a plot to rob a computer-parts dealer.

Robert Chan, 19, once a candidate for his class valedictorian, could get life in prison because the charge specified that he lay in wait for the victim. The jury deliberated 2 1/2 hours before returning the verdict Tuesday.

The victim, 17-year-old Stuart Tay, was lured to a garage on New Year’s Eve in 1992 with the promise of a gun purchase. Chan forced Tay to drink rubbing alcohol, then taped his nose and mouth shut. Tay was beaten unconscious with a sledgehammer and baseball bats, then buried in a shallow grave.

Chan was one of five teen-agers charged in Tay’s death. Mun Bong Kang, 19, pleaded guilty Tuesday at the urging of his parents, who wanted to spare Tay’s parents the ordeal of another trial, his attorney said.

Chan claimed he believed Tay had rigged Chan’s house with explosives.

″I had to participate in killing him because that was the only way to stop him, prevent him from blowing me up,″ Chan testified last month.

Sentencing was set for June 3.

Tay’s mother, Linda, said she was grateful for the verdict. ″I did expect a very early verdict because the facts were clear,″ she said.

″I just want to say this is a tragedy for everyone,″ said Chan’s father, engineer Tony Chan.

Chan was a top student at Sunny Hills High School in Fullerton. Tay, who attended Foothill High School in Santa Ana, wanted to become a doctor like his father.

Another teen, Charles Choe, had previously pleaded guilty and testified against Chan. Jury selection began Tuesday for the remaining two co- defendants: Abraham Acosta, 17, and Kirn Young Kim, 18.

Choe will be held by the California Youth Authority until age 25.