Crime & Justice

Second jury deadlocks on murderer's sentencing

A second jury deadlocked today on whether to recommend the death penalty or life in prison without the possibility of parole for a man convicted of robbing and murdering a South Los Angeles liquor store

Los Angeles Superior Court Judge David S. Wesley declared a mistrial in the penalty phase of Larry Stewart's retrial after jurors announced they were split 11-1, with the majority favoring a death sentence for the 51-year-old defendant.

It was the second jury asked to consider what sentence Stewart should face for the murder of Sang Yun "Sam'' Kim, who was found dead on April 24, 2005, inside Kimbo's Liquor and Jr. Market in South Los Angeles.

The 58-year-old victim had been severely beaten, choked with his own belt and chemically burned with bleach.

The first jury convicted Stewart of first-degree murder, second-degree robbery, second-degree commercial burglary and unlawful taking of a vehicle, and found true the special circumstance allegations of murder during the commission of a robbery and murder during the commission of a burglary. That panel then deadlocked 8-4 in favor of recommending a death sentence.

The judge set an Aug. 30 hearing to determine whether Stewart -- who was an ex-convict on parole at the time of the murder -- will face a third jury or whether he will be sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

"It is my firm belief that there is just insufficient factual evidence to warrant the death penalty in this matter,'' one of Stewart's attorneys, Antonio Bestard, said after the latest deadlock.