In a decision issued Friday, a state parole board approved the parole of Tony Ng, one of three men convicted in the gambling club slaying, the state's worst mass murder. Unlike his two co-defendants, Ng was not convicted of murder in the massacre, which saw 13 people killed on Feb. 19, 1983.
Ng was instead convicted on 13 counts of first-degree robbery and a single count of assault.
In a decision issued Friday, the state's Indeterminate Sentence Review Board described Ng as a "model prisoner" and allowed him to be moved to an immigration detention pending his deportation to China. The King County Prosecutor's Office and many of those touched by the killings fought against the move.
The notorious killing saw two other men -- Kwan Fai "Willie" Mak and Benjamin Ng -- hogtie, rob and execute 13 people at the International District gambling parlor. Mak and Benjamin Ng were ultimately sentenced to life without the possibility of parole.
Tony Ng was charged in the murders, but claimed he had been forced to participate in the massacre by Mak. While prosecutors now say that defense shouldn't have been put to the jury, jurors found in Ng's favor and convicted him only of robbery.
"The Wah-Mee massacre stands as the worst mass murder in Seattle history," King County Prosecuting Attorney Dan Satterberg said in a statement, "and it seems incomprehensible that one of the participants will soon be free."
"There is little doubt that Tony Ng caught some breaks in his favor that he did not deserve, but the verdict of the jury set in motion the possibility of his eventual release," Satterberg concluded.
Tony Ng was imprisoned under a parole-based sentencing scheme since replaced with definitive sentences. Under the older system, a parole the state board was left to decide when Ng should be released.
Had Ng been convicted under current Washington law, he would have been sentenced to a specific period of time. A King County Prosecutor's Office spokesman noted the firearm enhancements alone would carry a 70-year term.
The board's decision would allow for Ng to be returned to state custody if he is freed by immigration authorities. He is expected to be detained at an Immigration and Customs Enforcement facility pending his deportation to China.