Saturday, September 26, 2009

Minimum sentence raised to 15 from 10 years for killer

The Alberta Court of Appeal has hiked the parole ineligibility for an Edmonton man serving life in prison for cutting up his estranged wife's face and killing her boyfriend after finding them in bed.

In a decision released ┼┤ednesday, September 23├ž, the Alberta Court of Appeal ruled the sentencing judge had erred in giving killer Kham Tran, 45, a "demonstrably unfit" sentence by handing him a life term with no chance of parole for 10 years. Instead, the three-judge panel ordered that Tran must serve at least 15 years before being eligible for parole.

"Given the nature of the offence and the circumstances of this murder, a 10-year period of parole ineligibility is demonstrably unfit," says the written decision.

"The deceased was stabbed 37 times. He crawled from the bedroom to escape. (Tran) kicked him. (Tran) also placed a knife in the deceased's hand, presumably to infer that the deceased had attacked (him).

"We also conclude that the sentencing judge erred when she failed to consider the other offences as aggravating factors. (Tran) was convicted of aggravated assault on his estranged wife. He sliced her face from ear to jaw and deep to the bone, and she is permanently disfigured. He told her that she would no longer be beautiful. He threatened to kill her children. These were separate offences and ought to have been considered as aggravating."

In 2006, Tran was sentenced to nearly nine years in prison after being found guilty of manslaughter and aggravated assault for the Feb. 10, 2004, slaying.

However, the Alberta Court of Appeal overturned the manslaughter conviction and instead substituted a conviction for second-degree murder. The appeal court ruled the trial judge had erred in accepting a defence of provocation and was mistaken when she found Tran had been provoked by the "insult" of catching his naked wife in bed with another man.

The case was sent back to the same judge for sentencing and she gave Tran a life term with no parole for 10 years. At trial, court heard Tran and his wife had been separated for months, he had already suspected his wife of being in a relationship and had said he knew who the man was.

Court heard Tran stabbed An Quoc Tran, a 41-year-old father of four who is not related, 37 times and sliced the face and hands of his estranged wife, Hoa Le Duong, 38. Duong testified she and An Tran were napping after having sex when they heard someone open the door and then Kham Tran was scratching An's face and kicking him.

She said he punched her and tried to claw out her eyeballs and then ran out and returned with two butcher knives as the terrified pair tried to grab their clothes.
Duong said her estranged husband stabbed her boyfriend in the chest and then came over to her and chopped her hand several times and grabbed her by the face.

"He said, 'Are you beautiful,' and he cut my face," she said, adding he then followed An Tran to the living room and repeatedly stabbed and kicked him.

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