Thien Minh Ly’s Killer: “I Am Not a Monster”


Last week, we featured the story of Gunner Jay Lindberg’s attempts to get off California’s death row by arguing that his brutal, 1996 ambush murder of Thien Minh Ly, a popular Vietnamese American immigrant, was not a hate crime related to white supremacist views. (That story can be found here, for those of you who missed it.)

The state’s Supreme Court is considering Lindberg’s claims and is due to issue an opinion this summer.

Yesterday, we received a handwritten letter from Lindberg, who expressed sorrow.

“I’ve never denied that I took Mr. Thien Minh Ly’s life–but not for the reasons I was convicted,” Lindberg wrote from condemned row in the notorious San Quentin State Prison. “It was not a robbery nor was it a hate crime. I do believe I should pay for my crime as I took his life, so I see my punishment as justice. I know if it were someone in my family I’d want justice and no amount of sorrys would change that. I’m no where near perfect, but I’m not a monster. I’ve done a terrible wrong not only to Mr. Ly but his family and I can’t take it back.”

So why did he stab Ly–president of the Vietnamese Student Association when he attended UCLA–22 times, mostly in the heart?

It was, Lindberg (pictured at the time of his arrest) tells me, merely “reckless actions.”

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