Le Sentenced To Death For Triple Murder

Thong Le will pay the ultimate price for killing a St. Martin mother and her two daughters. The jury that convicted him of capital murder Thursday night, sentenced him to death Friday.

During the trial, jurors heard conflicting stories about who was responsible for the murders.

Prosecutors told the jury that the robbery was part of a crime that exploded into a triple murder. The state said that Le and his accomplice stole $1,300 from the Nguyen family. But before the suspects left Big Ridge Road, DA Keith Miller said Le helped brutally murder Minh Huynh, and her daughters Thanh and Thuy Nguyen.

The district attorney said, "Our belief is that they killed the children in front of the mother in an effort to try and get money."

A diagram of the murder scene was used in court. It showed the bedroom where Jackson County deputies found the mother. Across the hall was another bedroom. That's where the 15 year old died. And the den near the front of the house was where investigators testified the 11 year old was killed. "They were beat all about the head and the face," said Miller. "They had strangulation marks on their necks. And one of the girls had knife marks across her arm."

The defense said Le didn't take part in the murders. Defense attorney Richard Conant said that on the day of the murders, his client was easily influenced by somebody eight years older. In opening statements, Richard Conant told jurors that on November 1, 2001, "Mr. Le unfortunately thought he was going to rob a family."

Five county inmates testified that the second man charged in the murders, Ngan Tran bragged about killings. Tran committed suicide in his jail cell in April.

No one from the Nguyen family was in court. According to the district attorney's office, Mr. Nguyen is the only surviving member of his family. So right after he found the dead bodies of his wife and two daughters, the St. Martin man moved back to Vietnam.

Read more on this story from the wlox.com news archives:

Former Inmate Says Officers Beat The Man Found Hanged