Courts & Crime

Murder trial opens with details of how officer died

Sheriff's gang Det. Ed Yee took off his jacket and tried to stop the blood pouring out his mortally wounded partner, Vu Nguyen, sprawled on top of a backyard chicken coop.

"Vu, stay with me," Yee implored.

Yee told a Sacramento Superior Court jury Monday how he barely found a pulse, how he lifted Nguyen's sunglasses to see his "nonresponsive" eyes on the cold and dreary December day his partner died.

Prosecutors have charged alleged street gang member Jimmy Siackasorn with murder. In his opening statement Monday, Deputy District Attorney Rod Norgaard portrayed Siackasorn, 19, as a cop hater and disrespected member of the Tiny Rascals Gangsters, whose criminal compatriots could barely stand him.

"He's the kind of guy when I would beat the crap out of him he'd still be talking (expletive) in the middle of the beating," Norgaard quoted one TRG member as characterizing Siackasorn.

Assistant Public Defender Sue Karlton agreed that Siackasorn, who had been sleeping in cars, was largely despised in the tough neighborhood east of Franklin Boulevard across from the Campbell Soup plant they call "The Avenues."

"No one really liked him," Karlton quoted one so-called friend as saying.

Karlton did not contest that Siackasorn shot and killed Nguyen on Dec. 19, 2007. The issue, she said, is whether Siackasorn knew Nguyen was a cop.

"Jimmy Siackasorn didn't know Vu Nguyen was a police officer, and he shot in self- defense," Karlton said.

If he didn't know Nguyen was a lawman, Siackasorn sure mouthed enough contempt in the years that preceded the shooting and the days that followed it to establish a mind-set for a cop killer, according to Norgaard's opening remarks to the jury.

He was a "a very angry and hostile young man," Norgaard said, a kid who had been arrested 26 times from the age of 12 and who developed a hatred for police that carried all the way through the Nguyen killing.

According to the DA, Siackasorn once told a probation officer at the Boys Ranch, "I'm going to come back here and kill somebody." He told a staffer at Juvenile Hall, "I will kill you," and another probation officer who contacted him, "You're lucky I didn't know you guys were coming, because we would have shot it out," Norgaard said.

After his arrest the night Nguyen died, Norgaard said, Siackasorn told a sheriff's photographer "that cop deserved it," and it was "lucky I didn't see you on the street. I would have shot your ass, too."

Moments after Nguyen went down, Norgaard said, Siackasorn told at least three people he "shot a cop."

Norgaard said the case is bolstered by clothing tinged with gunshot residue that witnesses said Siackasorn stashed in a chicken coop a few yards from where Nguyen died. The clothing contained DNA that matched Siackasorn's profile, according to Norgaard. Detectives also found two spent shell casings in the coop that matched the bullets recovered from Nguyen's body, the DA said.

Norgaard said he intends to present evidence that Siackasorn knew Nguyen was a member of the sheriff's gang unit, and that he told a friend after the shooting that he had "just busted on task force."

The prosecutor said that the gang unit's silver Nissan Maximas were well known in the neighborhood where Siackasorn hung out, and that the defendant – who had an arrest warrant pending after he ran away from a group home – knew exactly what was going on when Yee and Nguyen drove up on him.

In his testimony, Yee said he and Nguyen were driving south on 37th Street coming up on 42nd Avenue about 2 p.m. when he saw somebody standing outside what the deputy described as a known Tiny Rascals Gangsters hangout. Detectives later said Siackasorn was waiting to buy some pot.

Yee said "our interest was piqued when he looked at us and then turned around and walked away from us." Yee said he swerved the car toward the loiterer who then "breaks out in a full sprint."

Nguyen "jumps out of the passenger side and gives chase," Yee testified. Yee said he whipped the car around the corner, looked up a driveway and saw Nguyen jump a fence and stand on what turned out to be a chicken coop.

Thinking their suspect was heading south, Yee said he sped over to 43rd Avenue, to cut him off. He later remembered hearing some "faint noises" along the way.

When he got to 43rd Avenue, Yee said the person they were after hopped fences back toward where he came from. Yee drove back to 42nd Avenue and realized he couldn't see Nguyen anymore. He called for backup and jumped the fence himself, where Nguyen was bleeding to death on top of the chicken coop.Read the full story at the Sacramento Bee.

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