Schizophrenic Vietnamese Immigrant Loses Attempted Civic Center Rape Conviction Appeal

Born in 1970 in South Vietnam and adopted by an Orange County family five years later, Son Kim Tran struggled to get his life on track.

But Tran dropped out of high school, got lost in drugs and booze and, in 1996, was diagnosed with schizophrenia.

Four years later he committed rape, went to a California prison and then landed in a mental hospital before he was released back into society in August 2009. 

Free only one month, Tran drank a large amount of gin one night, decided he was horny and asked a 57-year-old homeless woman living around Santa Ana's Civic Center Plaza for sex. 

She said no and went to find her shopping cart loaded with her belongings. 

According to court records, Tran followed the woman to the Old Orange County Courthouse, pushed her to a secluded area behind bushes and tried to rape her.

A Good Samaritan thankfully interrupted the crime.

At his trial, Tran rejected his defense lawyer's advice to plead guilty by reason of insanity, and a prosecutor in the Orange County District Attorney's Office won guilty verdicts for kidnapping and assault with intent to rape.

A Superior Court judge sentenced him to prison.

Tran appealed, claiming that despite his refusal to go for the insanity defense, the judge should have known he was nuts and sent him to a mental hospital. His lawyer also argued that there was insufficient evidence of kidnapping.

On Jan. 29, a California Court of Appeal based in Santa Ana ruled that Tran has mental issues but understood the criminal proceedings against him. The panel also declared that the kidnapping conviction was righteous because he forcefully moved the woman about 20 feet to the secluded area.

Upshot: Tran, 42, will continue to serve his 55 years to life punishment inside Mule Creek State Prison at Ione.

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