By Zoey Hou
SACRAMENTO, CA – Despite apparent conflicting evidence of injury, and no witnesses, defendant Khampher Phakeovilay is now set to stand trial for allegedly strangling and battering his 77-year-old wheelchair-bound uncle.
At the preliminary hearing this week in Sacramento County Superior Court, Sacramento Police Officer Matthew McCune said he received a dispatch call Feb. 1 to an apartment in Sacramento County where he said he was “waved down by some tenants on the second story of the apartment. They were pointing to the subject who was later identified as Phakeovilay.”
McCune said he and his partner were told that a suspect was standing on the second story landing about 15 yards away from the apartment.
After detaining the suspect, the officer said he made contact with the alleged victim in the apartment, who was a thin elderly Asian man sitting in a wheelchair and appearing to be shaky and distraught. McCune stated that he immediately observed a laceration on the victim’s right pinky finger with blood on the right hand and pants of the man.
McCune testified that it appeared “the victim was struck in the head and body multiple times by the defendant. He (the victim) also stated that the defendant placed his hands around his neck and squeezed.”
The officer continued to explain that, while being choked, the victim said he began to have difficulty breathing, was blacking out, and felt unable to move. After being strangled for approximately a minute, the defendant allegedly pulled him off of his wheelchair and stomped on his back.
Defense Attorney Michelle Trigger asked if there were any family members who appeared on scene at the time. McCune said the victim’s wife and two other female residents of the house were there but did not see the alleged attack.
The officer also admitted that he did not observe any injuries to the throat, back, or body on the elderly victim.
Trigger pointedly argued, considering the frailty of an elderly man, “There would be some injury if those actions happened, particularly if somebody is 77 years old. The officer indicated that he did not personally observe any injuries and would have documented that if he did.”
Trigger added, “The victim claims that his back has been stomped on and had been strangled for an excess of a minute but there is not a single mark on his neck, no injuries consistent with being pulled out of a wheelchair, and he declined medical attention.”
Thus, due to the victim’s refusal for medical attention and lack of evidence of bodily harm, defense counsel asked that the court not hold defendant Phakeovilay to answer.
Deputy District Attorney Tara Crabill asked Officer McCune if he has received training on strangulation situations, to which he confirmed. “In strangulation cases do you always see marks on the neck? How common or uncommon, if you can just explain?”
He answered, “It’s about 50/50 depending on the case and how hard the person has squeezed their throat.”
The DDA maintained the prosecution does not have to prove great bodily harm in this case, and argued that because the defendant was “likely to cause great bodily injury, we are not required to prove anything.”
“It’s a combination with his [the victim’s] age and action that he was put in a situation that would put him in great bodily harm,” concluded DDA Crabill.
Judge Richard Sueyoshi found that there is sufficient evidence to believe the defendant is guilty and must be brought to trial. A jury trial is set for Aug. 16.
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