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 in December 2009 was convicted Monday of second-degree murder.
Khanh Van Le faces a maximum sentence of 16 years to life in state prison at a scheduled Dec. 6 hearing.
The owners of Saigon's Towing on West Street had the best intentions for the Dec. 13, 2009, party: they wanted to get members of their group that went on fishing excursions together with possible new recruits.
But amid the drinking and good cheer, Anh Tuan Nguyen's girlfriend, Jenny Le Do, insulted Khanh Van Le's live-in girlfriend, Thao Nguyen. An argument broke out, and Le was told to leave the party. Police were called, and the party broke up at 6:30 p.m.
Several who had been at the party walked over to nearby Cafe Cutie. Le showed up and an argument broke out with Anh Tuan Nguyen that drew an officer who had broken up the party. With Nguyen nearby, Le claimed he was hit by a “Mexican” because he apparently did not want Nguyen arrested.
The party moved to Anaheim, where as 37-year-old Anh Tuan Nguyen was leaving, he was confronted again by Le, who plunged a knife into his chest, puncturing his heart. Nguyen was also stabbed in the left shoulder, which severed his spinal cord, and on the right forearm.
After telling partygoers returning from Cafe Cutie “he stabbed me,” Nguyen died at the scene. Le meanwhile was driven in his girlfriend's van back to their home, where he tried to wash his blood-stained cargo shorts. But DNA tests presented in court would show Nguyen's blood was still on them.
According to City News Service's coverage of Deputy District Attorney Jim Mendelson's opening statements, Le “returned hell bent for revenge. He stabbed an unarmed man to death.”
But Le's attorney, Shannon Winston of the Orange County Public Defender's Office, claimed her client had no plans to kill anyone, that he returned to join the party twice because he wanted to smooth things over and that he ultimately acted in self-defense.
Jurors, who could have considered everything from first-degree murder to involuntary manslaughter, deliberated about 10 hours before finding Le guilty of second-degree with murder and finding true a sentencing enhancement for using a deadly weapon.
Le's girlfriend was charged in the case as being an accessory for driving her boyfriend twice to scenes where confrontations broke out between the two men, including the final one that resulted in Anh Nguyen's death.