A former death row inmate from Jefferson Parish who saw his conviction overturned in a decades-old double murder recently pleaded guilty to two counts of manslaughter and was sentenced to 50 years in prison.
Thao Lam, 47, was convicted and sentenced to death in 24th Judicial District Court in 1998 for killing an 18-year-old woman and her father as they prepared for her wedding. Lam also shot and injured other family members, all in front of the woman’s 8-year-old brother. He then shot himself but survived and was arrested.
In 2016, the Louisiana Supreme Court ordered a new hearing before Judge Glenn Ansardi because of problems with the translation Lam was provided during his trial.
The hearing included testimony by an expert who reviewed the Vietnamese translation provided to Lam. Ansardi ruled there were problems significant enough to warrant a new trial, and Lam was taken off death row in September 2016.
In April 2018, District Attorney Paul Connick’s office secured two new first-degree murder indictments against Lam, leading to a deal with prosecutors on Jan. 24 in which Lam pleaded guilty to two counts of manslaughter.
Ansardi sentenced Lam to 25 years on each count, with the sentences to be served consecutively, a total of 50 years, according to court documents.
Lam, who at this point has spent about 20 years in prison, will have to serve almost that long before he is eligible for release.
Lam admitted to killing Han and Dat Truong in the Woodmere Subdivision of Harvey on Feb. 4, 1997. Authorities said he was in love with Han Truong and was upset that she was about to be married to another man.
According to news reports at the time, authorities said Lam went to the family’s home on Chriswood Lane as they prepared for the wedding and began arguing with Dat Truong, 57, and another relative, Phuong Tu Tran, 42.
Lam shot both of them, killing Dat Truong and wounding Tran, and when Han Truong came running down the stairs, he shot and killed her, too.
Lam also shot and wounded Han Truong’s mother, Nguyet Lam, as she attempted to flee the house with her 8-year-old son, who was Han Truong’s brother.
Thao Lam, who was not related to any of those in the house that day, then turned his gun on himself, but he survived and was taken to a hospital.