Dad admits to killings
More than six years after two children burned to death in an SUV in Los Angeles, their father has pleaded guilty to two counts of first-degree murder. Dae Kwon Yun, 61, was sentenced to life in prison after entering the guilty pleas on Tuesday, the district attorney’s office said. The Los Angeles Times reported that before Yun entered the courtroom, authorities told the judge his status had been changed to suicidal. The children’s mother, Sun Ok Ma, testified that Yun beat her and threatened to kill her and burn down their home, leading to their separation, the Times said. Yun’s 10-year-old son, Alexander, and 11-year-old daughter, Ashley, were killed on April 2, 2006.
Parrot killer imprisoned
A 63-year-old Everett, Washington, man has been sentenced to six months in jail for fatally stabbing his ex-girlfriend’s parrot with a serving fork. The Daily Herald reported that Richard Atkinson pleaded guilty to animal cruelty and domestic-violence malicious mischief in the Aug. 19 attack. In a letter to the newspaper in September, the woman said she had the parrot, Bailey, for 18 years. Defense lawyer William Steffener said at Tuesday’s sentencing that his client does not remember what happened, but he may have mixed anti-anxiety medication with whiskey and slipped into a blacked-out rage. Snohomish County Superior Court Judge George Appel ordered Atkinson to undergo a psychiatric evaluation. He also has to pay the woman for her parrot and destroyed belongings.
Woman used as ‘shield’
A 22-year-old beauty queen killed during a gunfight between a suspected drug gang and soldiers appeared to have been used as a human shield, an official said on Tuesday. The soldiers reported that Maria Susana Flores Gamez was holding a weapon when she came out of the gang’s car during Saturday’s clash in the northwestern state of Sinaloa, the official from the federal prosecutor’s office said. The soldiers’ report “does not say if she fired, only that they used her as a human shield” during the confrontation, the official said on condition of anonymity. A forensics test found gun residue on her hands, suggesting she fired the weapon, the state prosecutor’s office said. Two men and two women, including Flores, and a soldier died in the running gunbattle that extended across the municipalities of Salvador Alvarado and Mocorito. Four other people were arrested. Local media said Flores was traveling with her boyfriend, a suspected hitman, when the shootout erupted.
Al-Assad sends message
Syrian Deputy Foreign Minister Faisal al-Mokdad, who was visiting the country on Tuesday, brought a private message from Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to President Hugo Chavez. Mokdad did not give details about al-Assad’s message to Chavez, saying only that it dealt with relations between the two leaders. Chavez has been a vocal defender of al-Assad and has accused the US and its allies of provoking violence during the conflict in Syria to try to topple its government. Venezuelan officials have previously acknowledged that the state oil company has sent three shipments of diesel fuel to aid Syria. Asked if Syria plans to request more fuel from Venezuela, Mokdad did not respond, saying through an interpreter: “Relations between Venezuela and Syria are very advanced, and we’re showing our thanks ... for the support offered economically and politically.”