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Shooter in spa killing of four acquitted in 1989 triple homicide in Louisiana

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POSTED February 24, 2012 8:20 p.m.

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — The man authorities say slew his two sisters and their husbands before killing himself at a suburban Atlanta spa appears to be the same person acquitted of killing three men in 1989 in Louisiana.

Jefferson Parish officials confirmed that records show a man named Jeong Soo Paek was acquitted of the slayings in the New Orleans suburb of Metairie, La. In those slayings, Jeong was shot in the face and lost an eye. The file on the case was destroyed in 1994, officials said.

The shooter in this week's spa slayings was missing an eye and was also named Jeong Soo Paek, said Norcross police Chief Warren Summers. Summers was not able to confirm it was the same person but said he had heard the 59-year-old Jeong had been involved in a crime in Louisiana in the past.

Sang Pok Yi, 54, and his sons, Sang "Robert" Man Yi, 26, and Sung Tae Yi, 27, were fatally shot a home in Metairie. Jeong worked for Sang Pok Yi in a building maintenance business.

In court testimony reported by The Times-Picayune at his trial in 1990, Jeong said the men became hostile toward him when he told them he might start his own business. He said he was beaten, and fired a .45-caliber pistol when he thought one of the men was about a draw a gun. It was never established which gun the bullets that wounded Jeong came from.

Several jurors said there was not enough evidence to support finding Jeong guilty of murdering the men.

In its 1990 story on the acquittal, the newspaper reported jurors said a turning point was the testimony of a plastic surgeon who treated Jeong for facial wounds at a local hospital on the night of the killings. The paper also reported Jeong's tongue was destroyed by the bullets.

The prosecution alleged Jeong shot himself three times in the neck and face — tearing out his right eye — in a suicide attempt soon after shootings.

The plastic surgeon, Dr. Richard Sabatier, said it was highly unlikely the man could have shot himself three times. A forensic pathologist testified the cheek wound that took out his eye was from a gun probably fired more than 2 feet away and so too far to be self-inflicted.

Also, a former head of the sheriff's office crime laboratory who quit in a dispute with the sheriff testified for the defense, saying detectives and crime scene technicians made many mistakes in the case. He said a bloody carpet in the house should have been removed for blood typing to determine if the three men were aggressively moving toward Jeong when he shot them.

When he was acquitted, rejoicing with Jeong were his wife and twin 9-year-old daughters, according to the newspaper.

Police in Georgia have given little information about Jeong's personal life. But court records from 2006 show that Jeong's family was afraid of his violent tendencies, Atlanta television station WSB reported Friday.

The victims of the killings in Georgia were 61-year-old Kum Hi Song, 64-year-old Byong Ok Kang, 57-year-old Kum Sook Kim and 55-year-old Tae Yol Kim.

One of the victims, Jeong's sister Kum Song, asked for a temporary protective order while he was serving a sentence for assaulting her.

"I am concerned that he is becoming more threatening and wants to harm us with his guns. My brother has also threatened to commit suicide with his guns," WSB reported she wrote to a judge.

About 20 people were inside the white-columned spa, a gathering place for Korean-Americans in the Atlanta suburb of Norcross, during Tuesday's shooting.

Police said just hours earlier, Jeong was asked to leave the Su Jung Health Sauna because he was being disruptive. He returned around 8:30 p.m. and opened fire, they said. A .45-caliber gun believed used in the shooting was recovered.

Detectives were trying to determine a motive, but said they believe the shootings could have involved a financial dispute or a fight over food.

 

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