Judge declares mistrial in case of Korean man, refers to Virginia Tech massacre

A judge has declared a mistrial in the case of a Korean-American man accused of pulling a gun on two golfers, saying the Virginia Tech massacre could affect the man's rights to a fair trial.

San Bernardino County Superior Court Judge Douglas M. Elwell on Monday excused a jury scheduled to hear opening statements in Raymond K. Yi's trial.

In arguing for the mistrial, defense attorney John Barnett cited the "inflammatory nature" of last week's shooting, in which Seung-Hui Cho, who was from South Korea, killed 32 people and himself. Barnett said Yi also was born in South Korea and noted his client's ethnicity came up during jury selection.

The judge set a pretrial hearing for June 8 and jury selection for a new trial could begin a few days later.

Yi is a former Orange County reserve sheriff's deputy charged with six felony counts of assault with a firearm and making criminal threats.

Authorities allege Yi flashed his sheriff's badge, then pulled a gun and threatened to kill a group of golfers during a July 31, 2005 dispute at a Chino Hills course.

Barnett has said Yi drew his gun because one of the golfers swung a club at him.

Yi, who was Orange County Sheriff Michael Carona's martial arts instructor, turned in his badge and his department-issued gun after the confrontation.

If convicted, he could face more than 10 years in state prison.

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Author`s name Angela Antonova