A shopkeeper found guilty of murdering two souvenir shop employees in San Francisco’s Fisherman’s Wharf in January 2011 was sentenced this morning to a life sentence.
A San Francisco Superior Court jury found 59-year-old Hong Ri Wu guilty in April of the two murders from Jan. 30, 2011, and this morning Judge Donald Sullivan sentenced him to life in prison without the possibility of parole and an additional 75 years to life.
Wu was found guilty of murder in the first degree for both deaths, along with firearm and multiple murder enhancements.
Wu shot Feng Ping Ou, a 30-year-old woman, and Qiong Han Chu, a 30-year-old man, that night at a business where they both worked at 269 Jefferson St.
During the trial, prosecutors said Wu murdered the victims because they were selling similar merchandise for less than his shop and because their shop blocked the view of Wu’s shop from the sidewalk.
Wu’s trial had been delayed because of issues concerning his mental competency.
This morning, Deputy Public Defender Sandy Feinland argued that the sentencing should be suspended and Wu’s competency re-evaluated to determine if he should stand for a new trial.
Assistant District Attorney Ira Barg said doctors’ reports over the years have shown he has refused to cooperate with staff and legal counsel not because he is unable, but because he is choosing not to.
“He is mentally competent now,” Barg said.
Barg said a hunger strike Wu went on while in custody was “related to anger” and was not connected with mental health issues.
“He has voluntarily absented himself,” Barg said.
Feinland argued that prosecutors were relying too heavily on a two-year-old report on Wu’s mental health and that in the time since, his competency has deteriorated.
Feinland said Wu suffers from depression with psychotic features, which leads to actions as refusing food.
Sullivan denied the motion and proceeded with the sentencing, during which Wu, seated in a wheelchair with his wrists shackled and wearing orange prison garb, told the judge an expletive and repeatedly showed his middle finger.
Assistant District Attorney John Rowland, also prosecuting the case, asked the judge to dole out the maximum punishment for what he called a “horrendous act” of “two cold-blooded killings.”
Sullivan also ordered Wu to pay $15,000 in restitution to the victims’ families for funeral expenses and other costs.
A Chinese interpreter explained the court proceedings to Wu, who kept his head lowered throughout the morning, only to raise it slightly to yell out to the judge.
Chu’s father Pak Chu was in court, along with Ou’s brother-in-law Jing Chen, a 39-year-old Fremont man.
Outside of court, Chen said his brother’s wife is sorely missed, especially by her now 3-year-old daughter, who was only 2 months old when her mother was killed.
He said the little girl doesn’t understand what happened or who her mother is and that a life sentence can never fix what the family lost.
“She is left without a mom,” he said.
Chen said that after the murders, the Fisherman’s Wharf shop has since closed.
After the sentencing, Feinland said he would be appealing the decision.
District Attorney George Gascon said today in a statement, “The sentence reflects the senseless nature of this man’s crimes. He was willing to take life over something so petty. I hope today’s sentence brings some peace to the victims’ families and the merchants at Fisherman’s Wharf.”
Sasha Lekach, Bay City News