Beloved karate teacher hit and killed after dispute, CA officials say. Driver convicted

More than two years after a beloved karate teacher was killed in a grocery store parking lot following an argument, a jury convicted a driver in his death, California prosecutors said.

Dontae Alfonso Wilburn, 37, is accused of striking Rodney Hu, 45, with his car before running him over in a Food Source parking lot in Stockton in May 2020, according to a Dec. 8 news release from the San Joaquin County District Attorney’s Office. A jury found Wilburn guilty of first-degree murder.

“The defendant in this case made a conscious decision to take the life of a husband, father, and friend to many. This kind of conduct has no place in our community,” District Attorney Tori Verber Salazar said in the release.

Wilburn’s court-appointed attorney did not immediately return McClatchy News’ request for comment on Dec. 9.

Hu was a staple in the Stockton community and “owned and operated the Rodney Hu Goju Karate studio and was a role model to his students, friends, and community members alike,” the release said.

Through his karate studio, he worked to provide shelter to all who needed a sense of belonging, according to his obituary.

“He loved his students like his own,” his obituary said.

“I would say I am who I am today because of Rodney Hu. Rodney took me in and put me under his wing for years,” a mentee wrote on a Facebook page with hundreds of posts dedicated to Hu’s memory.

Hu hailed from Hawaii, according to his obituary.

“He loved deeply, cared whole-heartedly and pursued passionately,” his obituary said. “O’hana (Family) meant everything to him and he welcomed everyone with open arms.”

Hu is survived by his wife, daughter and son, his obituary said.

Wilburn is expected to appear in court for sentencing in January, prosecutors said.

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