In 2008, Thanh Tan Phan was a hardened member of a Little Saigon criminal street gang called Cadi Lost Boys and one night at the Pho Hoa An restaurant in Garden Grove he participated in a senseless, brutal knife attack on a UC Irvine student and another young man eating with their girlfriends.
Phan's new home is nowadays the lovely California State Prison at Sacramento.
The rural, maximum security prison apparently isn't hospitable and he wants out as soon as possible.
To help accelerate his return to society, Phan appealed his 2010 attempted murder, assault with a deadly weapon, gang membership and street terrorism convictions by claiming his jury should have convicted him of nothing worse than voluntary manslaughter.
This month, a California Court of Appeal based in Santa Ana considered Phan's argument: that he and his hoodlum pals had reacted in the sudden heat of passion when Tuan Nguyen, who'd been sitting with UCI student Tran Vo, gave them a "mad dog" stare.
The appellate court justices weren't impressed, especially because it took the gangsters at least 15 minutes to decide to attack.
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They rejected the appeal.
(Note to the knucklehead underworld: Courts won't consider an unfriendly stare as legal justification for a beating or a killing.)
Upshot: Phan, 32, will continue to serve a term of 15 years to life and when he's done with that punishment he has to serve an additional 14 years.