MOBILE, Ala. (WPMI) An Alabama appeals court threw out the 2009 conviction and death sentence of Lam Luong, the man tried for killing his four children in 2008 by throwing them off of the Dauphin Island Bridge.
The 90-page appeal submitted Friday by the Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals cites three arguments as to why the case should be retried. One of the arguments states that Circuit Court Judge Charles Graddick erred in refusing the have the trial moved outside of Mobile County because of its publicity.
Kam Phengsisomboun, a man close to the Luong Family at the time of the trial, said he was shocked by the decision.
"It's not fair to the family," Phengsisomboun said. "We already have the answer to everything; that he got what he deserved, and, all of a sudden, this thing just popped up. It's a big surprise for me."
Former Mobile County District Attorney John Tyson Jr. said the overwhelming evidence and witness accounts of the January 2008 incident were enough to convict Lam Luong for the crime.
"We can't have people throwing babies off of bridges around here. We just can't," Tyson said. "No question in my mind that he did it, no question in my mind that the verdict of guilty is accurate, no question in my mind that he got a fair trial."
The State Court of Criminal Appeals argued that, during jury selection for the trial, there was extensive media coverage after Luong's guilty plea. When Luong reversed his plea to not guilty, the court said, the jury had already made up their mind about Luong, and the case should have been moved.
"Under oath, we had more than enough who testified that, yes, they could give up a fair trial," Tyson said. "I think a jury any place in Alabama is going to convict him, and do the same thing."
The appeal argued that the court erred in denying Luong's request for money, so defense attorneys could travel to Vietnam to investigate Luong's troubled childhood in the year's following the fall of Saigon. The appeal also said an experiment performed by then Bayou La Batre Police Captain Darryl Wilson, who dropped sandbags off of the bridge simulating the crime, should not have been admitted as evidence. They said Captain Wilson was not an appropriate expert.
Kam Phengsisomboun said he wishes the family the best as the case is retried.
"He should get what he deserves," Phengsisomboun said. "I mean, if he deserves the death penalty, it should have been done and over with by now. But he's still dragging, and everybody probably agrees with me that he's still eating our taxes money."
Tyson told Local 15 News he has recommended to District Attorney Ashley rich and Attorney General Luther Strange that this decision should be appealed.