General Crime

* Vutha Au gang murdered at Blind Beach on March 2, 2008 on the Sonoma Coast, DA’s Office will not seek death penalty for murders

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The Sonoma County District Attorney’s Office said today it will not seek the death penalty against several alleged gang members suspected of committing murder on the Sonoma Coast in 2008.David Prak, 22, his brother Sarith Prak, 24, and Quentin Russell, 27, Preston Khaoone, 24, Boonlak Chanpheng, 29, all of Santa Rosa, and Tyrone Tay, 29, of Suisun City are charged with the gang murder of 24-year-old Vutha Au at Blind Beach on March 2, 2008.Tay and Chanpheng will be tried together but separately from the other four defendants in January after Sonoma County Superior Court Judge Kenneth Gnoss granted a severance motion this afternoon.Gnoss agreed Tay and Chanpheng are in “an extremely different position” after their attorneys argued they did not drive with the other four defendants to the beach and were not present when Au was shot nine times.The six defendants faced the death penalty for enhancements alleging they killed Au in furtherance of the Asian Boyz street gang and for kidnapping that resulted in murder. They also initially were charged with an enhancement alleging they killed Au to prevent him from testifying in another criminal case. They were not held over for trial on that enhancement. Au was expected to testify against three defendants, including two of Khaoone’s relatives, at their trial for kidnapping and assaulting his 24-year-old brother Terry Au in Santa Rosa on Oct. 1, 2007.Those three defendants pleaded guilty to kidnapping charges and never went to trial.A trial date for the Praks, Khaoone and Russell will be set on Nov. 10.Deputy District Attorney Traci Carrillo said at the start of today’s severance hearing that Sonoma County District Attorney Stephan Passalacqua informed her Thursday he would not seek the death penalty.

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