Convicted killer could be set free

Statute may allow convict to have parole hearing

By Scott Johnson - Reporter , Elizabeth Berry

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - A convicted killer who was sentenced to life in prison a quarter-century ago could soon go free because of the role he's played in the convictions of multiple other criminals.

Curtis Cross killed Mandarin restaurant owner Kew Chin in 1988 and was sentenced to life behind bars, but a law that's been on the books since 2010 could soon set Cross free.

Cross was found guilty of shooting and killing Chin in an attempted robbery.

Now, the State Attorney's Office has filed a motion asking for a judge to consider reducing Cross's sentence because of the work Cross has done behind bars. Cross has been part of the "substantial assistance statute."

"Mr. Cross through his cooperation in a number of complex and really ugly homicide cases and others of that nature, that he has become eligible in the judge's discretion to have a reduced sentence," said Assistant State Attorney Rich Mantei.

Mantei is the prosecutor who filed the motion and said that Cross became an inmate law clerk in jail, which is a taxpayer-funded job some criminals are given. Inmates would often confide in Cross about crimes they had committed but not been convicted for.

"There had been a number of cases where Mr. Cross has given information on homicides, an armed sexual battery and armed robbery. They were cases where a lot of violence were done to citizens of our community and Mr. Cross enabled convictions through his testimony," said Mantei.

Mantei said getting Cross's case to this point has been a lengthy process and it included having the victim's surviving family testify in a hearing.

Documents from that hearing obtained by Channel 4's news partner, the Daily Record, show how angry the family is about the State Attorney's Office filing the motion.

During that testimony, one of Chin's sons is quoted as saying, "They have caused unnecessary anguish to my family and have belittled the murder committed by Mr. Cross."

The judge will now have to determine whether Cross should be granted parole at a hearing scheduled for March 6. Channel 4 reached out to the Chin family and they said that they would rather not comment on the story.

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