An Oakland gang member and drug dealer was sentenced today to50 years to life in state prison for shooting his 16-year-old girlfriend in the head at point-blank range two years ago after she said she wanted to break up with him.
Loeun Sa, 22, who has a prior conviction for possessing marijuana for sale and told police he belonged to the Asian Street Walkers gang, was convicted Sept. 26 of first-degree murder, using a firearm and being an ex-felon in possession of a gun for the Aug. 27, 2005, death of Nancy Nguyen at 52nd Avenue and East 10th Street in Oakland.
Nguyen was just beginning her senior year at the Life Academy High School of Health and Biosciences in Oakland and would have celebrated her 17th birthday the next week.
After Sa was sentenced, his lawyer, Spencer Strellis, said, “He's a kid and he threw his whole life away for nothing and also took her life. This case is a tragedy.”
Strellis said there was no question that Sa killed Nguyen, but he thought that Sa acted in the heat of passion and should have been convicted of the lesser charge of manslaughter.
In her closing argument in Sa's trial, Deputy District Attorney Stacie Pettigrew said Sa shot Nguyen after she told him to calm down following an incident in which he fired a gun into the air to break up a fight that involved 10 to 20 people and then told him that their relationship was over.
In his opening statement in the trial, Strellis admitted that Sa killed Nguyen but said the key issue in the trial was Sa's state of mind at the time.
“It's clear that there was a lover's quarrel and emotions ran high,” Strellis said.
Pettigrew said Nguyen and Sa got into a “really loud” argument after Sa fired two shots into the air but their friends tried to ignore it because they figured it was just “a girlfriend-boyfriend spat.”
But the prosecutor said Sa then turned toward a group of onlookers and said in Cambodian, “Do you want to see her die?”
Pettigrew said, “Tragically for Nancy, no one took him seriously” and tried to stop him.
The prosecutor said Nguyen, who was Vietnamese-American, probably didn't understand what Sa was saying so “she didn't know what was coming.”
Pettigrew said the area where the shooting occurred is heavily Cambodian-American and there's a Cambodian temple nearby.
Pettigrew said Sa dragged Nguyen around the corner to a deserted cul-de-sac and a few moments later, witnesses heard Nguyen say to Sa, “Why are you hitting me? It's over.”
Pettigrew said the witnesses then heard Sa tell Nguyen, “You can't run from me. You can't get away.”
After that, the witnesses heard the gunshot that took Nguyen's life, Pettigrew said.
The prosecutor said Nguyen and Sa had dated for about seven months and there had been no prior indication that they'd had problems or that she had wanted to break up with him.
— Bay City News