Man gets up to life term in Valley slaying

first_imgBehind him sat a dozen of his grim family members and friends. “There is no justice,” declared Kirschner with a stern look toward the defendant. “There is no meaning in murder.” Kim was killed Oct. 24, 2004, after he and two friends had run into Rodriguez and a friend at 3:30 a.m. in the foyer of the Frisky Kitty strip club in Tarzana. Opting to leave rather than pay the cover charge, Kim and a buddy both thought they recognized Rodriguez and said, “Don’t I know you from school?” “No,” Rodriguez had answered. And that was that, according to prosecutors. No hostilities were ever expressed or exchanged. Kim and his friends piled into his Toyota Tacoma and the last thing they saw was Rodriguez and his friend leaning against the strip club wall, smoking. They were driving east on Victory Boulevard just short of White Oak Avenue in Encino when Rodriguez pulled alongside in a Chevrolet Tahoe brandishing a gun. “Roll your window down,” the gang member yelled. Kim then threw up both arms, as if to say, Please, I don’t want any trouble. Rodriguez then fired seven shots into the truck, one of which entered the back of Kim’s skull and stopped just short of exiting his forehead. He lost consciousness, plowed into a tree and died later at a local hospital. He was 3 years old when his family moved to the San Fernando Valley from South Korea. He had been the eldest of four brothers and sisters, whom he helped raise, family members said. A graduate of Independence High School, Tae Joon “Andy” Kim was known as an unflinching spirit who saw the world as his oyster. At the sentencing of his killer, his loved ones demanded maximum punishment. Because of potential gang retribution, the Daily News agreed to withhold their last names. “My parents had to move away because they felt it was unsafe here,” said Kim’s younger sister, Jenny, choking back sobs. “They fill all their dead time … because they can’t stand the grief. “My brother had so many hopes and dreams,” she said, pointing at his killer, “ruined because of him. “If he had only talked to him, he would have seen what a great guy Andy was, instead of shooting him.” (818) 713-3730160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! “Andy was a champion, a champion in every sense of the word,” his best friend, Freddy, 28, of Van Nuys told a judge before the gunman was sentenced Thursday for murder. Then he looked toward the assailant. “I never want you to forget what I tell you, man: God will always be triumphant, God will always be triumphant,” Freddy said. At the urging of nearly two dozen tearful family members and friends, Van Nuys District Court Judge Richard H. Kirschner issued the maximum sentence to the gang member who killed Kim in cold blood. Erick Anthony Rodriguez, 21, of Canoga Park was handed 81 years to life in prison for killing Kim and trying to gun down two of Kim’s friends. Throughout the proceeding, Rodriguez, who wore a flat-top fade, a thick mustache and soul patch beneath his chin, leaned forward and bowed his head with a blank face. VAN NUYS – There was little about Andy Kim that wasn’t likeable. Quick with a joke, he spoke ill of no one. He cared for his siblings while Mom and Dad worked. Encouraged his friends. Guided kids at church. Fed the homeless. And was an aspiring artist who’d worked for Walt Disney Co. and fashioned Rose Parade floats. But the 26-year-old Kim’s promise – and the hopes of his Korean immigrant parents – were dashed 21/2 years ago by a gang member who shot him in the head for no apparent reason. last_img

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