By Courtney Dentch
The widow of a Chinese food deliveryman from St. Albans begged a State Supreme Court judge in Kew Gardens Monday to lock away for life the teenager who admitted killing her husband by repeatedly hitting him in the head with a brick.
Bio Zuh Chen, 38, fell to her knees and banged her head against the rail in the courtroom as Robert Savage, 16, of 177-03 130th Ave., Jamaica, was sentenced by Judge Robert Hanophy to seven years to life in prison.
The teen pleaded guilty to murdering Jin Shen Liu, 44, of 192-15 Linden Blvd. in St. Albans in September 2000.
Savage’s sentence came just days after the conviction of Hollis teenager Conrad Marhone, who was found guilty March 21 of murdering another Chinese food deliveryman, Ng Cheung Cheung, in a similar crime in June 1999.
Savage, who was 14 at the time of Liu’s murder, entered a guilty plea to second-degree murder on March 4 just as jury selection for his trial was scheduled to begin.
He and four other teenagers from southeast Queens, three of whom have already pleaded guilty to the crime, ordered $60 worth of food from Liu, owner of the Golden Wok Restaurant, Queens District Attorney Richard Brown said. The teens asked for the food to be delivered to an abandoned house at 130-19 176th St. in Springfield Gardens,
Once Liu arrived, the teens pushed him to the ground, threw a sheet over him, and Savage repeatedly hit him in the head with a brick, Brown said.
James Stone, 17, of 176-31 130th Ave. in Jamaica and Darryl Tyson, 18, of 132-07 178th St. in Jamaica both pleaded guilty to first-degree robbery. Stone was sentenced to 16 years in prison and Tyson received 17 years.
Jamel Murphy, 18, of 219-05 131st Ave. in Springfield Gardens also pleaded guilty to first-degree robbery and was awaiting sentence, Brown said. The fifth defendant, Stacy Royster, 19, of 257-52 148th Dr. in Rosedale was awaiting trial and was in court for a pre-trial conference Tuesday, a spokeswoman for the DA said.
At Savage’s sentencing, Liu’s widow addressed the court through a translator, begging Hanophy to impose a harsher sentence than the seven years to life he was given. Savage was sentenced as a juvenile offender since he was 14 when he committed the crime.
“If he is remanded in jail for the rest of his life, I know my husband will be at peace,” said Chen, sobbing. “I am here kneeling down before the judge.”
Assistant District Attorney Steven Antignani, who prosecuted the case, also asked Hanophy to reconsider the lenient sentence. Under juvenile offender laws, he could have sentenced Savage to nine years to life in prison, Antignani said.
“This defendant devastated a family,” said Antignani. “Mrs. Liu was forced to move from place to place to place, she’s got two children she’s raising alone, all because this defendant decided to beat her husband to death with a brick.”
Chen closed the restaurant less than a month after Liu’s death, and she and her children, Yonjie, 20, and Ziju, 18 were living in a makeshift apartment behind the restaurant. Since then, she has received donations and help from former Mayor Rudy Giuliani’s Community Assistance Unit to cut red tape and get the family into the Pomonok Houses in Flushing.
In the other case, Marhone, 20, of 100-11 196th St. in Hollis was the second defendant to be convicted of the murder of Cheung, who was killed and robbed while making a Chinese food delivery.
Marhone was convicted of second-degree murder and was scheduled to be sentenced April 22. Justice Richard Buchter indicated he would sentence Marhone to 25 years to life in prison, the district attorney said.
According to trial testimony, Marhone was with a friend, Rami Merchant, 18, also of Hollis, on June 23, 1999 when they called a Hollis Chinese restaurant and ordered food to be delivered to an abandoned house on 195th Street, Brown said. When Cheung, 52, arrived at the address with the delivery, he was given $20 before Marhone hit him with a baseball bat, Brown said. Merchant grabbed the food, and the two ran, Brown said.
Merchant was found guilty of murder in January and was awaiting sentencing, Brown said.
The jury that convicted Marhone based its decision largely on a statement Marhone signed the night he was arrested in which he admitted his role in the death of Cheung, defense attorney Frank Davis said.
Davis attempted to argue that Marhone, who was 17 at the time, was frightened into signing the statement and that he was in fact home with his mother and cousin the night of the murder, but the jury thought the statement carried more weight, he said.
“It’s hard sometimes to get them to look at it through a defendant’s eyes,” Davis said of the jury. “They tend to look at it through their own eyes; ‘Would I have done it?’”
Davis plans to file an appeal after Marhone is sentenced in April, he said.
Reach reporter Courtney Dentch by e-mail at TimesLedger@aol.com, or by phone at 229-0300 Ext. 138.