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Hung jury declared in brutal assault case of Korean American senior

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Good morning! It’s Monday, October 2. I begin with a somber note, sharing the disheartening outcome of a recent jury trial in Wilmington, Delaware. This case, involving a brutal assault on Chang Suh, a 69-year-old Korean American jewelry store owner, has left not only the local community but also the broader Korean American community in shock and outrage. Mr. Suh remains in rehabilitation treatment a year after the horrifying attack, which resulted in brain bleeding and a concussion. The hung jury verdict has left many questioning the justice system, expressing their frustration on social media, and raising concerns about jury diversity and trust in the trial process.
Welcome to Katchup Briefing, the Korea Daily’s weekly English newsletter, where I’ll keep you informed with the latest news updates and perspectives from the Korean American community. If you want to explore more articles and columns from previous weeks, please visit koreadailyus.com.

The surveillance video shows a Black robber assaulting Chang Suh, a 69-year-old Korean American jewelry store owner, on September 15, 2022. [Screenshot from the video]

In a shocking and deeply disheartening turn of events, a jury trial has ended in a hung jury or mistrial for a brutal assault case that has left both the local community and the Korean American community in Wilmington, Delaware, outraged.

The victim, Chang Suh, a 69-year-old Korean American jewelry store owner, is still in rehabilitation treatment a year later after a horrifying attack that left him suffering from brain bleeding and a concussion.

On September 15, 2022, Chang Suh was brutally assaulted by Calvin Ushery, a 40-year-old black man, who entered Suh’s Solid Gold jewelry store. Surveillance footage of the incident, which was widely broadcast on TV and online, showed Ushery approaching Suh as if to ask a question.

However, Ushery brutally pistol-whipped Suh, delivering a staggering 28 blows. The shocking video revealed Ushery stomping on and striking Suh’s head, even using a hammer twice.

Ushery fled the scene with approximately $100,000 worth of stolen jewelry, only to be apprehended by the police a week later. Facing charges, including robbery and felony assault, Ushery could have been sentenced to a total of 107 years in prison if convicted.

However, justice remains elusive, as the court declared a mistrial on September 19, shortly after a relatively brief two-day jury deliberation, citing the jury’s inability to reach a unanimous guilty verdict. The exact division among jurors remains unclear.
This decision has left citizens, who were horrified by the brutal assault, and Suh’s family deeply disappointed and frustrated.

Wilmington City Council members James Spadola and Maria Cabrera held a press conference outside Solid Gold Jewelers that week. They expressed anger with a legal system and political leadership that would allow a repeat offender like Ushery to return to the streets and commit heinous crimes against hardworking, contributing members of society like Suh.

Spadola noted that the prosecutors appeared to have an air-tight case in terms of evidence. He remarked, “I wish there were an issue with the evidence, but there wasn’t. The defense didn’t contest any specific piece of evidence. It was simply a jury that, unfortunately, couldn’t be convinced by what they saw before them.

“This wasn’t Ushery’s first run-in with the law. A quick search reveals that this was at least his fifth criminal charge with prior charges related to firearms and violence. The criminal justice system has failed us once again.”

Cabrera questioned, “Why do we have the same offenders being released time and time again to commit the same crimes? It’s not like they were rehabilitated.”

Steve Suh, the victim’s second son, declared, “Calvin Ushery deserves the maximum punishment. What you’ve seen in the media only scratches the surface of what happened to my father. Ushery has an extensive criminal history and should not be on the streets, where he can terrorize elderly business owners ever again.”

On behalf of the victim’s family, Steve Suh expressed hope that prosecutors would reconsider the charges and bring forth “more appropriate charges.” “How is beating someone unconscious with a hammer considered criminal mischief? How is stomping on someone’s head repeatedly considered criminal mischief? As a family, we will not let our guard down until justice is done.”

Chang Suh, who underwent surgery last year due to severe bleeding and brain damage, remains unable to walk and communicate properly a year later. The gravity of the assault and its enduring impact on Suh’s life cannot be overstated.

David Suh, the victim’s first son and an Iraq war veteran, posed a question, “How could such an assault on a senior occur unless driven by racial bias or hate?”

The Korean American community is furious at the hung jury decision. Many expressed their outrage on social media, questioning how such a violent act could result in a hung jury when all the evidence was captured on video. Some raised concerns about the diversity of the jurors, while others expressed a lack of trust in the jury trial system.

Prosecutors in Wilmington, Delaware, intend to request a new trial by amending the charges. However, the fact remains that justice has been delayed, if not denied, for Chang Suh and his family. The failure to secure a guilty verdict despite overwhelming evidence underscores a troubling trend that calls for our attention and action.

This case serves as a stark reminder of the urgent need for reform within the legal system. It highlights the necessity of preventing repeat offenders like Calvin Ushery from being released to commit heinous crimes repeatedly. Chang Suh’s life has been irrevocably altered, emphasizing the critical importance of ensuring that justice is promptly and appropriately served.

We must advocate for a fair and just legal system that safeguards the most vulnerable among us and holds wrongdoers accountable for their actions. Only then we can hope to prevent such tragic events from occurring in the future.

By Mooyoung Lee   lee.mooyoung@koreadaily.com