Apparent Accidental Death from ‘Pill’ Nets Man ‘Meaningless’ 180 Days

By Jessica Weisman and Taylor Smith

WOODLAND, CA – Hardy Phuoc Tran, charged with two felony counts of transporting and/or selling narcotic controlled substances and possession of a controlled substance, was sentenced here last Friday morning in Yolo County Superior Court.

The accused pleaded guilty to the first charge listed, and the second was dismissed.

Judge Peter Williams presided over this sentencing hearing, in which statements from the victim’s family were heard.

Tran has been found guilty of selling narcotics that contained fentanyl—allegedly unknown to him—to his roommate, the victim. The victim was also under the impression, he said, the drugs did not contain anything potentially lethal.

The court heard first from the victim’s father, who was heartbroken and angry at the untimely loss of his daughter. Her mother and sister spoke next; they were equally as broken but had more compassion for the accused.

“My sister’s life is gone, and all because of one pill,” said the victim’s sister in pouring her heart out over the loss of her best friend. “I do not blame you,” she said, “I do not believe that this is what you meant to do.”

The victim’s mother explained the horror she felt when she got the call from Tran that he had come home to find her daughter lying lifeless, cold and with her legs blue at their home in Davis.

She explained the damage that this has done to her family, then spoke directly to Tran, saying, “Hardy, if any sense can be made of her death it is that you lead a sober life.”

Further, she urged him to “share your story and your part in [the victim’s] death. It will serve to keep her memory alive and maybe it will save one more person and that person is you. I don’t want that to happen to your family.”

Judge Williams explained to Tran the importance of listening to the family’s remarks as well as his own. The judge said he will tell his own daughter this story, and tell her to “be careful, and tell her friends to be careful.”

Judge Williams referred to this horrific incident as “every parent’s worst nightmare,” and took a moment of silence for the family’s loss.

The judge imposed the full 180 day sentence in the county jail and two years of probation, despite agreeing with the family that any sentence is “meaningless” given the loss of life in this event.

Within Tran’s probation, he will be subject to illegal drug and narcotics testing at any time, searching his residence at any time, he must abstain from all drug use and possession during his probation, and he will not be allowed to possess or own firearms or ammunition for the rest of his life as a convicted felon.

Moving forward, Tran must also submit to searches of his digital devices to ensure he is not engaging in any narcotics dealing, and he will undergo a substance abuse assessment. Any violations of Tran’s probation will result in “extensive consequences” in the words of Judge Williams, of which Tran acknowledged his understanding.

About The Author

Jessica is a third year at the University of California, Davis from Boise, Idaho. She is double-majoring in Political Science - Public Service and Gender, Sexuality and Women's Studies. She has been on the cheer team for UC Davis for three years, and is set to graduate a year early in June 2023. After graduation, Jessica plans to attend law school in Boulder, Colorado after obtaining more work experience in her field.

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