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Slain deliveryman’s widow sobs during last sentencing

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Two southeast Queens teenagers stood before the judge with their heads bowed and their hands cuffed behind their backs as the widow of their victim cried and yelled at them in Chinese, begging the judge to impose harsher jail sentences.

Stacy Royster, 19, and Jamel Murphy, 18, were sentenced in State Supreme Court in Kew Gardens May 29 for their roles in the fatal beating and robbery in September 2000 of Jin Sheng Liu, 44, a Chinese food deliveryman from 192-15 Linden Blvd. in St. Albans.

Both pleaded guilty to first-degree robbery charges. Royster, of 257-52 148th Drive in Rosedale, received 17 years in prison, while Murphy, of 219-05 131st Ave. in Springfield Gardens, drew 11 years.

Royster and Murphy were the last of the five teenagers involved in Liu’s attack to be sentenced before Judge Robert Hanophy.

Liu’s widow, Bao Zhu Chen, 38, addressed the court through heaving sobs and, with the aid of a translator, implored Hanophy to sentence the teens to life in prison. Chen blamed the act on Royster, who admitted to using her cell phone to call Liu and lure him to an abandoned house in Springfield Gardens, where the teens robbed him and the youngest of the group hit him repeatedly with a brick.

“She should be in jail forever,” Chen said, pointing at Royster. “She’s really the one who caused all of this. If she didn’t call my husband, he wouldn’t be dead.”

Royster, Murphy and three other teenagers, who are also from southeast Queens, ordered $60 worth of food from Liu, owner of the Golden Wok Restaurant on Linden Boulevard in St. Albans. Royster asked for the food to be delivered to an abandoned house at 130-19 176th St. in Springfield Gardens.

Once Liu arrived, the teens pushed him to the ground and threw a sheet over him. One assailant, just 14 at the time, then hit him in the head with a brick.

James Stone, 17, of 176-31 130th Ave. in Jamaica, and Darryl Tyson, 18, of 132-07 178th St. in Jamaica, both pleaded guilty to first-degree robbery. Stone was sentenced to 16 years in prison, and Tyson received 17 years. Robert Savage, 16, of 177-03 130th Ave., Jamaica, who admitted to wielding the brick, pleaded guilty to murder and was sentenced to seven years to life in prison.

Hanophy called the crime an “act of moral bankruptcy” and expressed regret that he was bound to lesser sentences because the teens pleaded to robbery charges, rather than the original murder charges.

“I cannot impose the life sentence to which I think you’re entitled,” Hanophy told the defendants.

Royster’s attorney, Robert Didio, asked Hanophy to reduce the sentence, arguing that his client’s mental condition was not adequately considered by the district attorney’s office. Royster’s original plea was not guilty by reason of mental disease or defect, based on her history of bipolar disease, said Assistant District Attorney Steven Antignani, who prosecuted the case. Royster’s psychiatric condition was considered, Antignani said, but Didio felt it was not given enough weight in sentencing.

“I’m disappointed that the prosecution was not swayed by the reports on Ms. Royster’s psychiatric condition,” Didio said. “I stand by my argument that her background should have been considered further.”

Royster addressed the court and apologized to Liu’s family, saying she did not know her friends intended to hurt the man. But Antignani said her correspondence in prison showed otherwise.

“The letters Ms. Royster wrote in jail indicated no remorse for what she perceives as a minimal part in this crime,” he said. “The family believes that her role was much larger.”

Murphy received the lesser sentence in exchange for cooperating with Antignani and agreeing to testify against his friends.

“He’s always been forthcoming and truthful, and he’s always admitted his part in this crime,” Antignani said.

Hanophy expressed hope for Murphy’s future.

“You, of all people, have shown the most contrition here,” he said. “I believe something can still be made of your life.”

Reach reporter Courtney Dentch by e-mail at TimesLedger@aol.com, or by phone at 229-0300, Ext. 138.

Posted 7:05 pm, October 10, 2011
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