0

AP: Spa shooter had bloody past in La.

Jeong Soo Paek

Jeong Soo Paek

NEW ORLEANS (AP) -- The man authorities say killed his sisters, their husbands and himself at a Norcross spa appears to be the same person acquitted in 1989 of killing three men in Louisiana.

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

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 the New Orleans suburb of Metairie. Jeong had 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 Times-Picayune 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.

But 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 the sheriff testified for the defense. He said 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.

The victims of Tuesday 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. About 20 people were inside the white-columned spa, a gathering place for Korean-Americans in Norcross, at the time of the 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.