Some spectacular murders by and against Asian Americans are putting a new edge on the model-minority stereotype.

"He rushed over, grabbed the shoulder and then recoiled from the icy cold of the skin."
everal unrelated, high-profile murders by Asian men and women within the last two years is forcing a reappraisal of the stereotype of the the meek Asians who supposedly make up a so-called model minority. Now the image may come to include scowling, violent Asians who terrorize the night. Consider these recent cases:

Mistress Murder

     On August 18, 1993 Lisa Peng, 44, a Taiwanese national who splits her time between her home land and southern California, allegedly broke into a Mission Viejo apartment inhabited by her husband's mistress and his illegitimate five-month-old son.
     She confronted the mistress, Jennifer Ji, 25, a tall and slender Chinese national. They allegedly argued and then fought, punching, wrestling, scratching and biting. In the end, Jennifer fell back onto the couch, dead from 18 stab wounds. Unsatiated, Lisa searched the apartment for her husband's son. She found the infant asleep in a crib in an upstairs room. She pulled a blanket over his head and suffocated the child.
     Later that week Lisa's husband, Jim Peng, 50, a wealthy Taiwanese businessman, returned to Los Angeles after completing a business trip to Taiwan. Unaware of the murder, he drove to the upscale Mission Viejo apartment, rang the door bell and, receiving no response, waited for Jennifer to return.
     After spending several hours in the apartment manager's office, Jim again tried the door bell. Then, growing irritated, he turned the door knob, surprised to find the door opening. It was usually kept locked. Stepping inside, Jim turned on the lights and saw sprawled on the couch his mistress' bloody corpse. He rushed over, grabbed the shoulder and then recoiled from the icy cold of the skin.
     Later, police found the dead child.
     The Orange Country District Attorney has charged Lisa Peng, Jim's wife of 21 years, with murder and with additional counts that could result in the death penalty. Her trial is currently in progress, and the DA claims to possess crucial evidence-an alleged confession taped during a conversation at the OC sheriff's office and a DNA sample from a bite mark on the mistress' left arm.

Uzi Cop-Killer

     On February 14, 1994 at about 3:15 p.m., David Fukuto, 32, a Japanese American, pulled his gold 1984 Toyota Celica into the Torrance Holiday Inn parking lot. Strewn about the car's back seat and trunk were two Uzi handguns, a .22 caliber pistol, a .09 caliber pistol, bullets, plastic handcuffs, a fake mustache and beard. Fukuto parked, loaded the .22 and .09, stuffed the handcuffs in a canvas bag and climbed from the car.

     Inside the Holiday Inn, in one of its conference rooms, the upper management of the Palos Verdes Estates Police Department were attending a seminar conducted by psychologist William Mathis. Dressed casually in tennis shoes and jeans, the officers sat at banquet tables, sipped coffee and listened to Mathis speak.
     At about 3:35 p.m. Fukuto, masked and clutching a gun in each hand, burst into the conference room and shouted, "Everybody put your hands on your head. This is no joke. This is a real gun." He shot once at the ceiling, as if to dispel any skepticism.
     Ironically, the officers remained skeptical. They thought Fukuto was part of a training exercise, similar to those practiced at police academies. PAGE 2

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