By On the occasion of our 20th anniversary
By Gustavo Arellano
By R. Scott Moxley
By Alfonso Delgado
By Courtney Hamilton
By Joel Beers
By Peter Maguire
By Charles Lam
* * *
In last month's trial, Bui defense attorney Joanne Harrold, a former Westminster judge, claimed that prosecution witnesses had fingered her client to protect the identity of the real shooter. But DNA evidence coupled with an incriminating letter Bui sent from jail, the witnesses and expert gang testimony by Westminster police detective T. Walker proved too much. On July 27, a court clerk spent 20 minutes reading 37 guilty findings.
While two female friends wailed in the courtroom's public seating section, Bui showed no trace of emotion. At his September sentencing, it's likely he'll be sent to a maximum security prison for the rest of his life.
When Judge Richard Toohey asked him if he understood the verdicts, he politely said, "Yes, your honor," and was then escorted away in handcuffs.
Earlier this year, Quoc Pham, who drove Bui to the shooting, was also found guilty of attempted murder. His sentencing was delayed until after he testified against Bui. Pham's girlfriend cooperated with police too. She received an unknown juvenile disposition and has since moved out of California.
None of them was as lucky as TRG's Albert Nguyen and Mini Mike. Prosecutor Ebrahim Baytieh had convicted them for their roles in Bui's shooting and Superior Court Judge Frank Fasel sentenced them to 29 years in the California Youth Authority. They were both serving that sentence last October when the Santa Ana-based state court of appeal reversed Fasel's attempted murder verdicts. The justices determined that the pair could not be held responsible for Bui's actions.
Today, Mini Mike—the kid who claims he assaults people to gain the respect of fellow gangsters, who dreams of someday leading TRG, and who once bragged to police, "I don't care about anybody . . . I don't have any mercy"—is free and living in Little Saigon.