Orange County gangster Sarith Yin thought of himself as a tough guy, a hit man, and carried a shiny, black .40-caliber handgun to elevate his 125-pound stature to heights he must have felt were towering.
At the age of 18 in 2005, Yin unlawfully took a vehicle and possessed stolen property, a feat that won him 16 months in prison.
Shortly after he emerged back into freedom, he added to his résumé attempted burglary and street terrorism, which returned him to prison for 16 months.
In January 2010, at 22 years old, the We Don't Care (WDC) hoodlum graduated to the big time in the scumbag world.
He and an allied Tiny Rascals Gang (TRG) member confronted Surenos gang members in Santa Ana, barked their gang affiliations, fired a combined 11 gun shots and killed rival Juan Carlos Rodriguez.
The murder filled Yin with pride. At a post-killing lunch, he bragged that he and “Beaver,” the other shooter from TRG, should launch a hit man business.
Prosecutors inside the Orange County district attorney's office had other plans.
In January 2012, a jury convicted Yin of murder, street terrorism and four felony enhancements, including those for active gang membership.
But the killer isn't happy with his case.
He claims Matthew McLeod, a veteran Santa Ana Police Department gang expert, did not supply to the jury sufficient proof that WDC is a criminal street gang.
But the California Court of Appeal based in Santa Ana concluded this month that Yin's complaint was worthless because McLeod satisfied the legal requirement for a jury to reasonably conclude that WDC, which had at the time a reported 20 to 25 lowlife members, constituted a gang.
Upshot: Yin, now 26, will continue to serve the rest of his life as an inmate. He's presently housed at the California Substance Abuse Treatment Facility and State Prison at Corcoran. When he dies in his cell, he'll owe society another 30 years of imprisonment, according to the sentencing rendered by Superior Court Judge Francisco Briseño.
CNN-featured investigative reporter R. Scott Moxley has won Journalist of the Year honors at the Los Angeles Press Club; been named Distinguished Journalist of the Year by the LA Society of Professional Journalists; earned six dozen other reporting awards; and been hailed by two New York Times Magazine writers for his “herculean job” exposing entrenched Southern California law enforcement corruption.