An Orleans Parish jury in October refused to convict Khoi Hoang in a 2013 execution-style killing that prosecutors claimed he committed so he could take up with the victim’s wife. That didn’t stop a judge, however, from handing Hoang a 35-year prison sentence Tuesday for the crime that he was convicted of: obstruction of justice.
Ad hoc Criminal District Court Judge Walter Rothschild sentenced Hoang, 37, to the lengthy prison term and set a Jan. 8 date for a hearing that could lead to additional prison time based on whether he is judged a habitual offender.
Rothschild denied a request from Hoang’s attorney for a new trial on the obstruction charge.
Video evidence and witness testimony in the trial suggested that an unidentified black man, not an Asian-American, pulled the trigger, killing Lien Nguyen. Nguyen was found gurgling his own blood in a remote area of New Orleans East and, according to a witness who called 911, repeatedly said “wife” when asked who had shot him.
Authorities accused Hoang and Charity Nguyen, 37, of setting up the killing so they could start a life together.
A jury of six men and six women deadlocked on murder, conspiracy and solicitation charges against Hoang but found him guilty on the obstruction count, based at least in part on evidence that he returned a borrowed vehicle used in the murder without its license plate and that he tampered with surveillance camera gear.
No retrial date has been set for Hoang on the murder, conspiracy and solicitation charges. Charity Nguyen awaits a trial on those three charges.
Hoang’s prior convictions include a guilty plea to flight from an officer in 1995 and a guilty plea in 2009 to armed robbery with a firearm.
At the heart of the state’s case were the words of Joseph Hoang, an admitted gunman and drug dealer who described himself as Lien Nguyen’s best friend going back to their childhood as Vietnamese refugees.
He testified that Khoi Hoang, who is no relation, and Charity Nguyen both came to him in early 2013 with pleas to kill Lien Nguyen, promising him $10,000 and a pound of marijuana.
He said Khoi Hoang offered him a handgun in a meeting three weeks before Lien Nguyen’s death — one of four appeals he said the couple made to him to kill the man.
Charity Nguyen testified against her ex-lover, claiming her husband abused her but that Khoi Hoang acted alone.
Obstruction of justice in a murder case carries a maximum 40-year sentence, with no minimum.
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