The state's Indeterminate Sentence Review Board is considering parole for Wai-Chiu "Tony" Ng, one of three men convicted in Seattle's 1983 Wah Mee massacre.
Lin Yee Wong listened Friday as the interpreter read her handwritten letter that detailed in Chinese the memories of her husband who was slain more than 26 years ago in the worst mass killing in Seattle’s history.
Gim Lun Wong was among 13 people hogtied, robbed and fatally shot when three men entered the Wah Mee social club in the Chinatown International District on Feb. 19, 1983. A 14th victim survived.
In the years since, Lin Yee Wong said she has been able to conceal her grief — until now, with prison time possibly nearing an end for one of the three men convicted in the killings.
“I want to cry, but I’m all out of tears,” the interpreter read from the widow’s letter. “Sadness that has been hidden in me has all of a sudden come up.”
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The state’s Indeterminate Sentence Review Board, or parole board, is weighing whether to let Wai-Chiu “Tony” Ng begin serving the final stage of his prison sentence. If permission is granted, Ng could be released from prison as early as 2014.
But the sentencing board also has the leeway to require Ng to spend up to life in prison, said Betsy Hollingsworth, a sentencing-board member.
Inside a meeting room at the Beacon Hill Library, Lin Yee Wong and other relatives of the victims and community members were offered a chance to tell Hollingsworth and fellow board member Tom Sahlberg how they felt about the possibility of Ng being allowed to serve the last of his 14 assault and robbery counts.
Ng was not present for the meeting. He is expected to speak to board members when they travel Jan. 13 to the McNeil Island Corrections Center, where he is imprisoned.
A state Department of Corrections spokesman said Friday that since his conviction, Ng has been in trouble only once with prison staff, for possession of a weapon in 1995.
Doris Wong-Estridge, whose father’s third cousin, Wing Wong, was killed in the massacre, said Ng should spend the rest of his life in prison.
“What could be more heinous than the slaughter of 13 people?” Wong-Estridge asked the board. “Tony made his choice.”
Wong-Estridge said “the only kindness” that Ng, along with co-defendants Kwan Fai “Willie” Mak and Benjamin Ng (no relation to Tony Ng), showed her relative was killing him first to spare him from witnessing his friends being murdered.
Mak and Benjamin Ng were convicted of multiple counts of murder and are serving life sentences without possibility of parole.
John Lew told the board Friday that he can’t help thinking about the 13 people killed when he walks past the alleyway that once led to the club’s entrance.
“It’s a blemish, not just for the families in this room, but it’s a blemish on the whole Chinese community,” said Lew, who did not lose a loved one in the massacre.
Ng was convicted of 13 counts of first-degree robbery and one count of second-degree assault with a deadly weapon, and was sentenced to a minimum of five years in prison for most of each of the robbery counts.
Ng was ordered to serve time for some of the counts concurrently and some consecutively. As he completed the term for each count, he began serving time for the next.
Lin Yee Wong, in her letter, questioned why offenders should be paroled when “oftentimes they will reoffend.”
“There was an offender who shot and killed four police officers, he was a parolee,” she said, referring to Maurice Clemmons and Sunday’s slaying of four Lakewood police officers.
Seattle Times news researcher Miyoko Wolf contributed
to this report.
Jennifer Sullivan: 206-464-8294 or firstname.lastname@example.org