A 43-year-old man who was kicked out of a party in Garden Grove twice before returning a third time to fatally stab another man was convicted today of second-degree murder.
Khanh Van Le was convicted in the Dec. 13, 2009, killing of 37-year-old Anh Tuan Nguyen. Jurors, who deliberated for about 10 hours, also found true a sentencing enhancement for using a deadly weapon.
The jury had the option of considering everything from first-degree murder to involuntary manslaughter.
Le, who is scheduled to be sentenced Dec. 6, faces up to 16 years to life in prison.
Le "returned (to the party) hell bent for revenge," Deputy District Attorney Jim Mendelson said in his opening statement at the trial. "He stabbed an unarmed man to death."
The owners of Saigon's Towing, 13921 West St., invited a group of fishermen, including Le, over for a "drinking party," to see who they got along with best as they sought to recruit a crew for fishing excursions, Mendelson said.
While at the party, Le got into a conflict with his girlfriend's ex- husband, Binh Nguyen, Mendelson said. The argument started when Nguyen's girlfriend, Jenny Le Do, insulted the defendant's live-in girlfriend, Thao Nguyen, who drove Le to the party and is charged as an accessory, according to Mendelson.
Le was kicked out of the party, and police were called just before 6:30 p.m., Mendelson said. Several of those at the gathering then walked a block or two away to Cafe Cutie, Mendelson said.
Le returned, however, to confront Binh Nguyen again, the prosecutor said.
"Binh Nguyen just sat there and took the abuse," said Mendelson, adding that the defendant was heard saying, "He needs to teach his women to not be disrespectful."
The victim, Anh Nguyen, stepped in and told Le to leave the party "because he was ruining the vibe," Mendelson said.
The argument escalated into a shoving match in which the victim hit the defendant, though it's not clear who started the physical conflict, Mendelson said.
Le called police and the same officer returned at 7:05 p.m. The defendant claimed a "Mexican" hit him even though Anh Nguyen was a short distance away, and Le said he did not want to press charges, Mendelson said.
Le returned to his residence in Anaheim, where Thao Nguyen's phone was used to call Anh Nguyen in a 13-minute call, Mendelson said.
"It shows an orchestrated or set up opportunity to attack from a position of surprise," Mendelson said.
Thao Nguyen again dropped Le off at the party, where he stopped Anh Nguyen as he was driving away in his van, Mendelson said.
Le plunged a knife into the victim's chest, puncturing his heart, which was the fatal blow, Mendelson said. The victim was also stabbed in the left shoulder, which severed his spinal cord, and on the right forearm, the prosecutor added.
Anh Nguyen tumbled out of his van and declared, "he stabbed me," as some of the partygoers returned from Cafe Cutie, Mendelson said. The victim was pronounced dead at the scene.
Le got back into his girlfriend's van and she drove them back to their home, where Le tried to wash his blood-stained cargo shorts, Mendelson said.
DNA tests on the shorts later showed the victim's blood on them, Mendelson said.
Le's attorney, Shannon Winston of the Orange County Public Defender's Office, denied that her client, who testified during the trial, planned to kill anyone and that he acted in self-defense.
Le returned to the party twice more to smooth things over because he needed the job and because he knew he would be working with many of the other fishermen in the future, Winston said.
-- City News Service