The Long Wall
Part Two


 
The first of Tom's cadre marched into the dock was Stuart Lin, in late August of 1978. He discovered there that his scurry to the mezzanine of the Golden Dragon Restaurant, even under duress, had been a flight up stairs leading to calamity.
He was tried before Judge Walter Calcagno, the senior criminal trial judge in San Francisco. Calcagno had been the judge in the Joe Fong case some years before. He was knowledgeable, brooked no nonsense, demanded everything on time, and frowned on excessive argument. He got what he wanted in the Stuart Lin trial. It was conducted in a gentlemanly manner by defense attorney Doug Schmidt and prosecutor Hugh Levine. Rarely was a voice raised or did a temper flare.
The most crucial issues were Stuart's state of mind during the massacre and whether or not he killed anyone. His own testimony portrayed him to the jury as the fumbling kid he was, but a devastating piece of evidence used in rebuttal painted a far different picture than did his testimony--the tape of his conversation with Gan Wah Woo on the west campus of Galileo High School. While it played in Cantonese, translator Nora Yuen relayed it to the jury in English.
Earlier, Levine had conceived the idea of sending Richard Grzybowski, the Crime Lab's top ballistics expert, to the Golden Dragon to determine the angle of strike of the shotgun pellets, thus hoping to establish from what point the shots were fired and what path they took. Stuart had revealed in his talk with Gan Wah that he stood on the upper level with Peter "the Hundred-Year Egg" Ng and that he remembered "shooting at the wall, and maybe a table." Grzybowski and the Task Force's Ron Schneider inserted chopsticks into the holes in the wall and measured the tracks of the pellets that struck the table. They found the angles to be consistent with Stuart's position at the top of the stairs.
It was known that Egg shot Calvin Fong with the .38 after the choirboy lay already wounded on the floor. Initially, Calvin was seated at the table with his back toward Stuart, and he was shot with a full load in the back in a line consistent with the distance from Stuart. It was also known that three shots were fired from one shotgun and three from the other.
Three hit Donald Kwan and were undoubtedly fired from the same gun because, judging from the way they struck, they had to have been fired in rapid succession. The first hit him in the cheek and would have rendered him unconscious, knocking him backward. Then he slumped forward, causing the next two to enter downward through his shoulder. That meant Egg's three shots killed Donald Kwan.
This information supplied convincing proof that whether he intended to do so or not, Stuart Lin killed Calvin Fong with one of the remaining three shots. Either his shotgun blast or Egg's .38 would have been lethal. Technically, Calvin died of a pulmonary embolism caused by the pistol wound, but medical testimony from Coroner Boyd Stephens implied that had Calvin not been shot with the .38, he probably would have died of the shotgun wound.
Accepting duress in a limited sense, the jury returned a conviction for second-degree murder. Levine was not devastated that it was not for murder in the first degree. "There really was something about Stuart Lin that was soft; he wasn't a hard-bitten guy, and a good defense was put on for him under the circumstances. Because he was convicted of five second-degree murders and eleven assaults, and they were all going to run consecutively, he would get a long sentence. I was satisfied."
Throughout the trial of Stuart Lin, Levine was conscious of the challenge of trying that case back-to-back with Melvin Yu's. He and John McKenna, along with others, testified at the same time in various Golden Dragon hearings. The court sessions for Stuart started every morning at 9:30. But beginning at 8:30, there were hearings down the hall in front of Judge Dossee on motions related to Peter Ng, Melvin, and Tom Yu, which required Levine to testify repeatedly, as they did McKenna and everybody else, about various things found in evidence.
Each morning, Levine would sit in Judge Dossee's courtroom watching the clock move closer to 9:30. Then, he would dash through the back door into a main corridor connecting all the courtrooms and run to the Stuart Lin trial. Each morning, Judge Calcagno would be waiting for him at the door, looking every inch the punctilious schoolmaster. His warning to Levine, on each occasion the prosecutor arrived from 30 seconds to a minute late, was, "If you're not ready to proceed, the People rest."
Sometime later, Stuart would relate a story about himself to Dan Foley which the cop felt was more indicative of the boy's true character than had been those terrible moments inside the Golden Dragon: "Hey, did I ever tell you about the time I was working over at a store in Berkeley as a sort of tailor like my dad? This was after the Golden Dragon, but before you guys caught me. I left work to take BART [the Bay Area Rapid Transit subway system], and I didn't have enough money on me for the fare. I saw an old lady standing there, and I thought maybe I'd go over and grab her purse. I walked toward her, and I realized I was scared. 'Here I am,' I thought, 'one of the Golden Dragon shooters, and now I'm afraid to snatch a purse.' So I decided not to do it and jumped over the railing and snuck into BART."
 

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2000 Brockman Morris