LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — A Palmdale man escaped a possible death sentence Wednesday by pleading guilty to killing his ex-wife and four others during a bloody rampage in 2008, officials from the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office said.
Jae Shim, 45, pleaded guilty to the first-degree murders of his ex-wife, Jenny Young Park, 34; her daughter, Jamie, 13; her son, Justin, 11; her cousin’s husband, NASA scientist Joseph Ciganek, 60; and her boyfriend, Si Young Yoon, 34. Shim also pleaded guilty to a charge of arson for setting Ciganek’s Quartz Hill home, where the Parks were staying, on fire.
“I am guilty,” Shim said through a Korean interpreter when being asked his plea to the last three murder counts.
Shim also admitted the special circumstances of lying in wait and multiple murders and that he used a Samurai sword and baseball bat to stab and beat the victims to death on June 23, 2008, District Attorney’s officials said.
The prosecution previously said they were seeking the death penalty against Shim, who will now face five life prison terms without the possibility of parole if he testifies truthfully in the upcoming murder trial of co-defendant Steve Kwon, 44.
Deputy District Attorney Beth Silverman — who noted that Shim has given a “detailed explanation” to authorities — told the judge that the defendant will be required to testify completely and truthfully against Kwon and will not be sentenced until after Kwon’s trial.
The prosecutor said Shim’s motive for the killings was “jealousy, power, control and a lot of anger” against his ex-wife and others related to her.
As part of his plea deal, Shim led authorities to the remains of Si Young Yoon, who had been missing since June 23, 2008. Yoon’s Acura SUV, which contained his driver’s license, checkbook and credit cards, was found near the scene of the Quartz Hill fire, but Yoon’s remains were found in December in Mexico.
Kwon is awaiting trial on five counts of capital murder, one count of arson of an inhabited structure and one count of accessory after the fact. He faces life in prison without the possibility of parole and is scheduled to make his next court appearance on April 2 for a pretrial hearing.
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