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Pham v. State

July 02, 1998

KHA TAO PHAM
v.
STATE OF MISSISSIPPI



Before Pittman, P.j., Banks And Waller, JJ.

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Waller, Justice

DATE OF JUDGMENT: 05/30/96

TRIAL JUDGE: HON. JOHN H. WHITFIELD

COURT FROM WHICH APPEALED: HARRISON COUNTY CIRCUIT

NATURE OF THE CASE: CRIMINAL - FELONY

DISPOSITION AFFIRMED - 07/02/98

MOTION FOR REHEARING FILED:

MANDATE ISSUED:

SUMMARY

¶1. Kha Tao Pham ("Pham") appeals his conviction for the capital murder of Tuong Nguyen ("Nguyen"). Pham and an as yet undiscovered accomplice called Chan attempted to rob Tuong Nguyen and Thien Nguyen ("Thien") in their home. During a scuffle, Pham's companion apparently discharged his weapon, fatally wounding Tuong Nguyen. Pham was subsequently wrestled to the floor and detained until the police arrived. A jury found Pham guilty of capital murder. The State waived the death penalty, and the Judge sentenced Pham to life without parole. Pham filed timely appeal to this Court, raising the following issues for consideration:

I. WHETHER THE TRIAL COURT ERRONEOUSLY EXCLUDED CERTAIN HEARSAY STATEMENTS MADE BY PHAM'S ACCOMPLICE CONCERNING THE REASONS THAT THE TWO WERE GOING TO THE NGUYEN HOUSE.

II. WHETHER THE TRIAL COURT ERRED BY ADMITTING EVIDENCE TENDING TO SHOW THAT THIEN AND TUONG NGUYEN WERE IN THE MARKET FOR A SHRIMP BOAT AND HAD AMASSED SOME 43,000 DOLLARS IN ANTICIPATION OF PURCHASING IT.

III. WHETHER THE TRIAL COURT IMPROPERLY SENTENCED PHAM TO LIFE IMPRISONMENT IN VIOLATION OF MISS. CODE. ANN. § 99-19-101.

¶2. This Court finds all three issues to be without merit.

FACTS

¶3. The facts of this case center around an altercation which occurred at 11 Betsy Avenue in Pass Christian, Mississippi, in the early morning of October 18, 1994. Quy Nguyen lived in the house with his wife, children, and his two brothers, Thien Nguyen and Tuong Nguyen. Also staying in the house was Hai Sam, a nephew of the Nguyens.

ΒΆ4. The Nguyens' version of events is as follows. On this particular night, Hai Sam testified that he was asleep in the bedroom and that Thien Nguyen and Tuong Nguyen had fallen asleep in the living room at about 11:00 p.m. and were sleeping on the couch. At about 1:30 a.m., Hai Sam was awakened by the sound of a car engine and looked out the window to see two men standing at the front door of the house. The two men left and Sam went back to sleep, only to be awakened again 15 minutes later by a knock at the front door. The two men told Sam that they were looking for Thien. Sam woke Thien up and went to the front door. ...


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