For several minutes of supreme assholiness, Thanh Van Quang is going to be rotting in state prison for 33 years to life.
That's not entirely accurate because Quang's most-recent crimes–pouring gasoline in the room of a Santa Ana motel that had evicted him, setting off an explosion and fire–combined with five felony strikes to earn the Fountain Valley 38-year-old the long prison stretch.
Now, I only had Quang with three strikes–for voluntary manslaughter, armed robbery and assault with a firearm–heading into the trial, which was highlighted by his defense attorney maintaining his client did not commit arson but may have done something "stupid." Ah, the stupidity defense …
Actually, Quang had a fourth strike for robbery before the trial and now five after his arson conviction on Oct. 30. The jury found him guilty of felony arson of an inhabited property and possession of a flammable material with sentencing enhancements for arson with use of an accelerant. Besides the 33 years to life in the joint, he was ordered by the judge Friday to pay more than $177,000 in restitution.
Here are the deets: Around 2:30 p.m. on Nov. 30, 2012, Quang was
entering (ouch!) entertaining guests in his room at Pueblo Motel at 1501 N. Harbor Blvd., Santa Ana–a violation of the house rules. That led to an argument with motel owner-manager Myung Cha that ended with Quang being kicked out.
About an hour later, Cha spotted Quang on the motel property with a gas can, which was not a good sign because the ex-guest did not own a car. Quang busted into his old room, removed some of his belongings, poured gasoline inside and closed the door and curtains.
Then something unexpected happened–BOOM!–a loud explosion that blew Quang out the front door of his former room, damaging it and some adjacent rooms. Cha dialed 9-1-1 and an Orange County sheriff's deputy responded to the motel. The deputy rolled up to see Quang walking away in the parking lot, but the odds were stacked against him trying to talk his way out of strike No. 5.
His hair was singed and his back, hands and arm were burned. You might call it the smoking Quang.