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World Journal staffer killed by 2 teens: DA

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One of the largest Chinese-language newspapers in the city was reeling this week after authorities said two teenagers allegedly strangled and dumped the body of one of its top marketing executives in a Flushing alley.

Queens District Attorney Richard Brown said 16-year-old Cory Azor of 29-17 Erickson St. in East Elmhurst and Chris Levy of Manhattan were arraigned last Thursday on murder, robbery and weapons charges in the murder of David Kao, whose body was found last week amid trash and debris in an alley near the Long Island Rail Road in Flushing.

Brown said a third youth, 17-year-old Keron Wilthshire of Corona, was arraigned on robbery charges after allegedly mugging another man with Azor and Levy last month and being found with Kao’s stolen car.

Kao was an employee at the World Journal, a Flushing-based media company that bills itself as the largest Chinese-language newspaper in the United States. Police said Kao was asleep in his 2000 Lexus SUV in front of 42-10 Colden St. at approximately 1 a.m. June 6 when Levy and Azor allegedly entered the vehicle, dragged him into the backseat of the car and choked him to death.

“I used to be a reporter so I would cover things like this all the time, almost every week,” said Richard Liang, who said he worked two desks from Kao at the World Journal. “But I never thought this kind of thing could happen around me. Nobody can believe it. Everyone is just devastated.”

According to court papers, Levy allegedly admitted to detectives that he dragged Kao into the backseat and choked him.

“I continued to hold him in the headlock and punch him in the face, and then he stopped moving,” the court papers quoted Levy as saying.

Brown said Azor and Levy then dumped Kao’s body in an alley between 147th Street between Roosevelt Avenue and 41st Avenue next to the LIRR. Police found him the next day and pronounced him dead at the scene.

World Journal Account Services Manager Richard Li said Kao had worked at the newspaper for more than 11 years.

“His sudden death came as a shock to us,” Li said. “We would like to extend our deepest sympathy to his family. The company will do its best to help his family in dealing with this tragedy and making funeral and other arrangements. We also would like to commend the police for solving this crime so promptly and hope that justice will be served.”

Brown said Azor and Levy could face between 25 years and life in prison if convicted. Wilthshire, meanwhile, would face up to 25 years in prison if found guilty of the robbery charges.

“While all three defendants are accused of preying on Asian men to rob, two of the defendants are charged with a senseless and brutal crime that, by their own alleged actions, shows a complete disregard for human life,” he said.

Brown said the three defendants were also charged with the robbery of 42-year-old Jin Tong Yuan just over a week earlier May 27 as he entered the elevator at 140-50 Ash Ave. The DA said Wilthshire allegedly grabbed Yuan from behind and placed him in a choke-hold and Levy held a silver pistol to the victim’s head while demanding money.

Reach reporter Stephen Stirling by e-mail at sstirling@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 138.

Posted 6:34 pm, October 10, 2011
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