An Asian Boyz gang member was sentenced to 15 years in prison this morning for the kidnapping of a man who was later murdered on the Sonoma County coast by the defendant’s alleged fellow gang members. Sonoma County Superior Court Judge Arthur Wick sentenced Boonlak Chanpheng, 29, of Santa Rosa, to five years for the kidnapping of 24-year-old Vutha Au and 10 years for being a street gang member.
Chanpheng pleaded no contest to the charges in April and faced up to 18 years in prison. Four other alleged Asian Boyz gang members are scheduled to be tried in October for the murder of Au on March 2, 2008, at the Blind Beach parking lot near Jenner. Au, a Santa Rosa resident, was the brother of Terry Au, who was kidnapped in 2007 by Perry Khaoone and Pongsony Patrick Khaoone — the brothers of Preston Khaoone, one of the four murder defendants.
Vutha Au was a prospective witness in the Khaoones’ kidnapping trial.The Khaoones pleaded guilty in 2010 to gang kidnapping charges. Perry Khaoone was sentenced to 18 years in prison, and Pongsony Patrick Khaoone was sentenced to 13 years in prison. On the night of Au’s murder, Chanpeng sent a text message to his co-defendant, Tyrone Tay — who had Au in his car — saying that Preston Khaoone was looking for Au, Deputy District Attorney Traci Carrillo said.
Tay then drove Au to where Preston Khaoone, 25, and three other alleged Asian Boyz gang members were waiting, Carrillo said. Some of them then continued to the beach where Au was murdered, she said. “He facilitated the kidnapping that resulted in an execution,” Carrillo said of Chanpeng. She called him “the ultimate setup man” for the murder. Khaoone, David Prak, 22, Sarith Prak, 24, and Quentin Russell, 23, all of Santa Rosa, are charged with killing Vutha Au, who was shot nine times.
Neither Tay nor Chanpheng drove to the beach with the other defendants. Tay, a 29-year-old Suisun City resident, also pleaded no contest to kidnapping Vutha Au and being a gang member. He faces up to 18 years in prison when he is sentenced Friday. Wick denied a request by Chanpheng’s attorney Erik Bruce to sentence his client to probation. “His involvement was as minimal as you can get,” Bruce said.
“He has been painted as the mastermind but there is no evidence of that. The other four defendants are more culpable,” Bruce said. Bruce alleged that Preston Khaoone planned the murder and Russell did the shooting. In a video played in court this morning, Au’s Cambodian parents said they consider Chanpheng their son’s “first murderer.
” They said that without Tay’s and Chanpheng’s involvement, nothing would have happened, and that the loss of their son destroyed their lives. Wick said it is clear that Chanpheng was involved in the kidnapping that led to death because of the text message he sent to Tay.”He had far more than a minor role in the kidnapping,” Wick said.
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