Kirn Young Kim was sixteen when he and four other teens conspired and carried out a plot to kill 17-year-old Stuart Tay in Buena Park, California. Kim served as lookout during the brutal New Year's Eve beating, and was sentenced to 25 years to life in prison.
According to the parole board, Kim, now 36, was a model prisoner and had shown that he took responsibility for his role in the murder:
According to a court document, the governor reversed the board's decision believing that Kim had not been honest about his role in the murder. To the parole board, however, the document went on to say that Kim had shown he was a model prisoner and presented psychological reports that said he proved a low risk for reoffending. Kim also told the board he took responsibility for his actions.Back in 1992, this murder shocked the Asian American community and received international attention. None of Stuart Tay's killers had a criminal record and were all considered model students -- the alleged mastermind, Robert Chan, was in the running for valedictorian at Sunny Hills High School. Almost exactly twenty years later, Kirn Young Kim is now out of prison.
In an opinion, court officials noted Kim had no criminal record before the murder, and he had not been involved in gangs, drugs or alcohol. While in prison, he had furthered his education, avoided the need for discipline and received commendations from officers and staff.
And yes, if the Stuart Tay murder sounds vaguely familiar, the 2002 film Better Luck Tomorrow was not-so-loosely inspired by the details of this case.