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Mother of child killed on 'Twilight Zone' set testifies

By
MICHAEL D. HARRIS

LOS ANGELES -- The mother of a 7-year-old boy killed on the 'Twilight Zone' movie set testified Thursday associate producer George Folsey said 'I will treat your child as my own,' but he and director John Landis never told her the child would be near explosives.

Hoa K. Lee also testified that Folsey and Landis never said her son, Myca Dinh Lee, would be filmed underneath the helicopter that later crashed onto the boy, a second child and actor Vic Morrow, killing all three.

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'You don't have to come back' to the movie set, Folsey told Lee the day of the fatal helicopter crash, the woman testified. 'I can just pick the children up and I will treat your child as my own.'

Lee said she agreed to let her son be taken back to the movie set without her. She testified it was the last time she saw him alive.

Folsey, Landis and three associates are on trial on involuntary manslaughter charges in the three deaths, which occurred on the set of 'Twilight Zone: The Movie' in rural northern Los Angeles County July 23, 1982.

Morrow, the Lee child and Renee Chen, 6, died during filming of a spectacular Vietnam War scene when a powerful special-effects explosion crippled the helicopter, causing it to crash.

Lee, who appeared close to tears at one point during her testimony, said Folsey also never told her that her son would be filmed illegally after dark without work permits.

'He told me that ... if they hire my son, it would be the scene about a Vietnamese village that is bombed and destroyed,' the woman testified. 'Only two children will survive ... and Vic Morrow will pick up the two children and run across the river.'

She stated, however, that Folsey led her to believe that in the movie, the Vietnamese village would be bombed and destroyed before the two children came onto the set.

'(Landis) repeated the same story Mr. Folsey told me and then he looked at Mr. Folsey and said, 'We hire them.''

She said Folsey later paid her $500 in cash for the use of her son.

Lee testified that she and her son were driven to the film set by a movie driver the day before the fatal helicopter crash.

About 2 a.m. the next morning, she testified, Folsey came to a trailer to take the children to the village scene. She said Folsey wanted to take the children there without the parents, but Lee insisted the parents go along.

She said Landis kept filming the scene with Morrow and the two children -- without explosives or the helicopter -- repeatedly.

'Myca and Renee kept laughing and giggling,' she testified. 'Mr. Landis told them not to try to laugh and giggle too much.'

Finally, about 4 a.m., Folsey told her the filmmakers would not be able to complete the scene at that time.

She testified Folsey asked her to bring her son back to the set later that day, but she said she was too tired. Folsey then offered to have a driver bring just the child back, and the mother agreed.

The two children were recruited to work on the film by Harold Schuman, the husband of 'Twilight Zone' production secretary Donna Schuman. Harold Schuman recruited the two children through Peter Chen, an associate of his at a mental health center that served the city's Asian community.

Chen was the uncle of Renee Chen and an associate of Myca Dinh Lee's father.

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