Beong Kwun Cho, who shot and killed his best friend in Anaheim as part of an assisted suicide made to look like a botched robbery, was sentenced Friday to 10 years in state prison.
Yeon Woo Lee's marriage and hotel business were crumbling in South Korea when he came to Southern California to visit Cho, his friend since elementary school.
But Lee wanted more than to see the sights. Because taking one’s own life is considered shameful to families in Korean society, Lee told to kill him. They shopped for a weapon and practiced shooting it.
Cho got cold feet about killing his childhood buddy, however.
The Cerritos resident told police that Lee, kneeling down in a gutter in an industrial area, told Cho that he had raped his wife, would do so again and then rape the couple's daughter.
That's when Cho says he pulled the trigger at point-blank range.
Cho's estranged wife later confirmed that Lee had raped her three times but that she had not told anyone.
Deputy District Attorney Scott Simmons, whose office originally blamed the killing on a sour business deal between Cho and Lee and sought a first degree murder conviction, agreed during trial that it was actually a case of assisted suicide.
A Santa Ana jury in July found Cho guilty of voluntary manslaughter and Simmons sought the maximum punishment of 21 years in state prison because the 57-year-old defendant could have walked away without shooting Lee.
It was a sentiment shared by Lee's family, but Orange County Superior Court Judge Thomas Goethal’s agreed with the jury that the shooting came during the heat of an argument and some leniency was warranted with his sentence.