Thursday, June 18, 2009

Six Teens Charged in Flushing Robbery and Murder

By Conor Greene

Six teenagers have now been charged in connection with the robbery and murder of an Asian man who had fallen asleep in his SUV while parked on a Flushing street earlier this month.

Police say 49-year-old Woodhaven resident David Kao was killed by Chris Levy, 17, of Harlem, and Cory Azor, 16, of East Elmhurst after the suspects found him asleep inside his 2000 Lexus double parked in front of 42-10 Colden Street on June 8.

Levy and Azor were arraigned last Wednesday in Queens Criminal Court on charges of second-degree murder, first-and-second-degree robbery and fourth-degree possession of stolen property. They were ordered held without bail and face up to 25 years to life in prison if convicted.

In addition, police have charged four other teenagers in connection with the incident, according to the Queens District Attorney’s office. Keron Wilthshire, 17, of Corona, Jay-Quel Merkerson, 16, of Flushing and a 15-year-old have been charged with criminal possession of stolen property (the SUV). Bryce Newton, 16, of Flushing was charged with third-degree unauthorized use of a vehicle for riding in a vehicle he knew was stolen.

According to the charges, Levy and Azor entered the SUV after spotting Kao sleeping inside. They placed Kao in a chokehold, pulling him over the driver’s seat into the back of the vehicle, where they fatally choked and punched him. They then drove the SUV to a nearby location where they dumped the body. “I continued to hold him in the headlock and punch him in the face and then he stopped moving,” Levy allegedly told detectives.

The break in the case came last Monday, when police received a report of an argument near an SUV parked in an alley behind 145-10 20th Avenue in Whitestone, about two miles from the murder scene. Levy, Wilthshire and Newton were inside the Lexus when police responded, and, after questioning, the three other defendants were arrested, according to a spokesman for District Attorney Richard Brown.

In a separate criminal complaint, Levy, Azor and Wilthshire are charged with robbing 42-year-old Jin Tong Yuan as he entered the elevator at 140-50 Ash Avenue in Flushing on May 27. According to statements allegedly made to police, Azor and his co-defendants spotted Yuan and agreed to rob him. Wilthshire grabbed Yuan from behind and placed him in a chokehold while Levy held a silver pistol to the victim’s head while demanding money, according to police. The three defendants then allegedly took the victim’s cell phone and cash from his wallet before fleeing.

“While all three defendants are accused of preying on Asian men to rob, two of the defendants are charged with a senseless and brutal crime that, by their own alleged actions, shows a complete disregard for human life,” said Brown.

Even thought the district attorney accused the men of specifically targeting Asian men, they have not been charged under the hate crimes statute. “I think Levy and Azor have been charged with the ultimate hate crime – murder,” said spokesman Kevin Ryan, adding that charging them with a hate crime would not add anymore time to what they are currently facing. “However those are crimes that can be considered when the case is presented to a grand jury,” he added.

Kao was a marketing employee at the World Journal, which bills itself as the largest Chinese language newspaper in North America. According to reports, he dined with a colleague on Kissena Boulevard on Friday evening before parking, for unknown reasons, in front of the Colden Avenue building where his ex-wife lives. His 21-year-old daughter is a college student in Taiwan.

Azor’s stepfather is Officer Frantz Jean-Bart of the NYPD’s automotive unit.

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