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Tuesday, May 4, 1999 Published at 03:22 GMT 04:22 UK

World: Americas

Jury urges execution for serial killer

Sharon Sellitto, sister of one of Ng's victims, reacts to the sentence

A jury has recommended death by lethal injection for a man found guilty of murdering 11 people in the 1980s.

Former US Marine Charles Ng was found guilty last February of killing two babies, three women and six men in a remote cabin 180km east of San Francisco.

Family members of Ng's victims broke down in court when sentence was pronounced.

"We've been waiting for this day for 14 years," said Lola Stapley, whose son, Robin Scott Stapley, was murdered by Ng and his alleged accomplice, Leonard Lake.

The jury had spent two and half days deliberating whether Ng should be executed or face life imprisonment.

The sentence now has to be confirmed by a judge.

'Killing field'

Authorities uncovered a "virtual killing field" east of San Francisco in 1985, but Ng's trial only began last October.

[ image: The case was the costliest in California history]
The case was the costliest in California history
It became the longest and costliest criminal prosecution in California history - the final bill is estimated to be about $14m.

Leonard Lake committed suicide in police custody, and Ng spent much of the following 14 years postponing his trial through a series of legal manoeuvres.

He maintained his innocence at the trial, testifying that although he appeared on videotapes torturing and sexually abusing two female victims, he did not kill anyone.

Chilling video evidence

He blamed his alleged accomplice, fugitive survivalist Leonard Lake. Ng claimed that Lake wanted sex slaves and he followed instructions but harmed no one.

Ng told the jury he was simply following the older man's instructions.

The prosecution showed videotapes of some of the victims during the trial, including 19-year-old Brenda O'Connor.

In the tape, Ng told Ms O'Connor: "You can cry and stuff like the rest of them. It won't do you no good. We're pretty cold-hearted."

Ms O'Connor, her boyfriend and their 1-year-old son were among the victims.

Charred human remains

Authorities searched the area around Lake's rural cabin and found more than 40 pounds of charred human remains. Police estimated at one time that Lake and Ng had killed 25 people.

After Lake's arrest and suicide, Ng fled to Canada where he was arrested two months later in Calgary for shoplifting. He served almost five years in prison in Canada.

The US tried to extradite Ng, but Canada resisted.

The northern neighbour of the US does not have a death penalty and is hesitant to extradite suspects to countries that do.

After pressure from both sides of the border, the Canadian Supreme Court relented in 1992.

But Ng was able to delay the trial for several years through a series of legal manoeuvres.

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