By Taylor Smith
SACRAMENTO, CA –Meng Lee—still maintaining his actions that led to two deaths were self-defense—apologized to the families of two murder victims last week, and asked for forgiveness here in Sacramento County Superior Court as he was about to be sentenced.
Judge Stacy Boulware Eurie sentenced Lee to seven years in prison followed by three years on parole for the double homicide case from 2019.
The incident that led to the death came about because of a disagreement between two families that apparently got out of hand. The alleged killings happened during a reported feud between the two families, prompted by comments made about the manner in which one of the family members treated his girlfriend.
The court heard many emotional statements from the families of Lee’s victims—including a brother and stepfather as well as the wife who also spoke on behalf of their daughter—all of whom asked that the maximum sentence be imposed on the defendant.
The mother told the defendant, “We are all victims here. No one wins. You may [get] a lessened sentence … but you both know what really happened on March 22, 2019, and you won’t forget that day.”
Lee’s attorney, Robert M. Holley, responded to the family’s statements with sympathy, informing the court that this is “one of the most tragic cases” he has ever had.
He explained that he had gotten to know his client over the three years of this trial, and that he understood that Lee was very remorseful over the situation.
“Every time I bring up the fact of the people that perished in this event he cries, and those tears are real,” Holley stated, pleading to the court that Lee is “a very, very good person, and he truly did this because he was absolutely afraid for his life at the time that it happened.”
Lee then spoke to the court. He had trouble getting his words out at first, and seemingly had even more trouble addressing the court rather than the families directly.
“They’re not here no more. Edison. Cody. Nothing could bring them back,” he said, “I am a father, a brother, an uncle, I am a friend, I understand, but to feel how you guys feel I cannot imagine. As a father you shouldn’t have to say goodbye to your children,” Lee told the families.
He closed by apologizing to the court and the families directly and asking for their forgiveness.
After enduring all of these heart-wrenching pleas, Judge Boulware Eurie stated that she wanted justice for the families of the victims despite understanding that no sentence she could give Lee would amount to the pain and grief they have all experienced.
“The decisions and actions that Mr. Lee took, he has the privilege of living with those for the rest of his life. He has the privilege because even if you can undo them, even though he has expressed to the court and to the family this morning that he wished those things could be different, he has the privilege because he remains here with everyone,” she began.
“There is nothing that the court can say or do even if I am to impose the maximum sentence that’s going to bring Cody back, bring Edison back, or relieve Elijah of what he experienced that night,” said the judge, adding she has obligations to the everyone involved in the trial as well the greater good of society as a whole, and needed to hear Lee as he presented himself.
“Whatever sentence I impose, it is going to be a sentence that one or more people find unjust. Justice lies in your heart. Justice is personal. The court’s obligation is to ensure a procedural justice for all involved, and I do that when I render a judgment that is less than the maximum. I want to underscore and request that you not think that I am discounting a life, that I am discounting your pain,” said the judge.
The judge then sentenced Lee for the crime of voluntary manslaughter to state prison for six years. She explained that she imposed “the middle term, because although Edison was the only victim involved with this count, there were multiple victims in this crime.”
Further, Lee was sentenced to an additional year for the use of a deadly or dangerous weapon, ultimately totaling seven years in prison.
She allowed the punishment of an additional two years and four months for the second count with which he was accused for the second victim, to run concurrently with the first—thus his sentence is still only seven years.
Judge Boulware Eurie closed with statements of remorse for the families of the victims, and reminded Lee and his family that “you can’t undo the past” before returning him to the custody of the state for the next seven years.