by HEATHER HARLAN
NEW YORK — A Queens Supreme Court jury deliberated only five hours before finding William Capehart, 19, guilty of second-degree murder, gang assault, robbery and other charges stemming from the February 2004 slaying of 18-year-old Huang Chen, a Chinese restaurant deliveryman.
Capehart is the third assailant convicted in the slaying. Last year, Charles Bryant, 18, was given a maximum sentence of 51 1/3 years in prison. Nayquan Miller, 18, faces sentencing in February.
The three teens were 16 years old when they viciously beat and stabbed Chen to death. They called in a food order to Chen’s family’s takeout shop, and then they robbed him to get money to buy sneakers. They pocketed $49, killing him so that he could not identify them.
“Huang Chen was so beaten up it was almost impossible to recognize him,” said Judge Robert Hanophy, choking up and pausing several times during Bryant’s sentencing. “[Bryant] deserves every day of the time that I am going to give him.”
During the weeklong trial, prosecutors said Capehart, a member of a branch of the notorious Bloods gang, encouraged the other two to rob Chen as an initiation to get into the gang. After beating Chen to death, the trio dumped his battered body into a nearby pond.
Police arrested Miller and Bryant, who quickly confessed. Both fingered a third assailant they knew only by a nickname. Investigators were initially not able to gather enough evidence to charge Capehart.
But in July, while appearing in court on an unrelated robbery charge, Capehart was arrested for the attack on Chen. That same month, Miller agreed to a plea deal for a 20-years-to-life sentence. He testified against Capehart, describing an attack that began as a robbery but turned deadly. Miller said Capehart repeatedly struck Chen on the head with the clawed end of a hammer and later stabbed Chen in the chest.
Chen’s family said they felt relieved the jury delivered a guilty verdict for Capehart.
“He should get the maximum sentence,” said Chen’s sister, Yvonne. “He deserves every day he will be spending behind bars where he belongs.”
Capehart will be sentenced in late February. He faces up to 25 years to life in prison.
“The jurors of Queens County paid attention to the evidence,” said Rosemary Chao, one of the Assistant District Attorneys who prosecuted the case.
The murder was one of several cases involving attacks on Chinese food deliverymen that occurred in New York City in the past few years.
Copyright 2006 Asianweek.com