A jury found 51 year old Soon Ja Du guilty of voluntary manslaughter of 15 year old Latasha Harlins. A 16-year prison sentence was recommended, believing that Du’s shooting was fully within her control and she fired the gun voluntarily.
The presiding judge, Joyce Karlin reduced the sentence to probation of 5 years, 400 hours of community service, and a $500.00 fine.
Judge Karlin suggested that there were mitigating circumstances. She stated:
“Did Mrs. Du react inappropriately? Absolutely. But was that reaction understandable? I think that it was.” The judge added, “this is not a time for revenge…and no matter what sentence this court imposes Mrs. Du will be punished every day for the rest of her life.”
The court also stated that Mrs. Du shot Ms. Harlins under extreme provocation and duress and probably would never commit a crime again.
A state appeals court later unanimously upheld Judge Karlin’s sentence.
15 year old Latasha Harlins was murdered by Soon Ja Du, a Korean store owner in Los Angeles, California on March 16, 1991.
Read more about this injustice at: Daily Black History Facts