SANTA ANA, Calif. (AP) _ Convicted serial killer Charles Ng was abused as a child and ``is a person of value'' who should be spared, a defense attorney told jurors today.

The emigre from Hong Kong was beaten with chains by his father and spent so much time being ordered around that he became dependent on others to tell him what to do, Deputy Public Defender William Kelley said.

The attorney addressed the jury as the defense began its case in the penalty phase of Ng's trial. In February, the jury convicted Ng of 11 murders committed in Northern California in the mid-1980s. Ng now faces either the death penalty or life in prison.

``He didn't know how to be assertive because they don't teach you that in Hong Kong,'' Kelley told the panel. ``He wanted to be told what to do.''

Kelley said that was why Ng joined the Marine Corps when he came to the United States and why he formed an attachment to Leonard Lake, a survivalist blamed for engineering a series of torture killings.

Mental health witnesses will show jurors that Ng is ``a dependent personality'' and that his actions were formed by that tendency, Kelley said.

In spite of this, he said, Ng accomplished positive things during the 14 years he spent in jail before being convicted, and promised that another inmate will testify how Ng turned the man's life around by his caring advice.

``You will realize that he is a person of value and he should be saved,'' the attorney declared.

Kelley called as his first witness Dr. Stuart Grassian, a psychiatrist who has studied the effects of stringent conditions of confinement.

Ng, 38, was convicted Feb. 24 of killing six men, three women and two baby boys in a spree of kidnapping, bondage and sadism from 1984-85. The penalty phase began last month and resumed after a three-week break.

Ng and Lake incriminated themselves with videotapes they made while threatening and tormenting women they held as sex slaves before their killings in Northern California.

One of them was Kathy Allen, 18, seen in April 1985 wearing handcuffs and being threatened on a videotape made by her captors at Lake's rural house in Wilseyville, about 150 miles east of San Francisco. Another woman, Brenda O'Connor, was seen pleading in vain for the lives of her husband and baby as Ng cut off her shirt and bra in view of the camera.

The nine-woman, three-man Orange County jury saw the scenes repeatedly during the guilt portion of the trial, which began Oct. 26. Dian Allen, younger sister of the slain woman, rushed from the courtroom in tears at the sight of her sister being brutalized on television monitors.

``You can never replace a family member, never,'' Dian Allen said later. ``All the things she missed out on in life. It's just not fair; and how it destroyed my life, it's just not fair.''

Lake, a fugitive on a weapons charge, killed himself with a cyanide capsule after police arrested him for shoplifting in San Francisco in 1985.

Ng fled to Canada, where he fought extradition for six years before the Supreme Court of Canada ordered him returned.

His trial was moved south to Orange County in 1994 because of heavy news coverage in Northern California. But it took five more years to begin, making it one of the longest criminal cases in California history.