An Oakland man was sentenced today to 75 years to life in state prison for fatally shooting another man while they were talking about the existence of God while both were under the influence of alcohol, marijuana and cocaine. Douglas Yim, 34, was convicted on Sept. 3 of first-degree murder for the death of 25-year-old Dzuy Dunh Phan, of Alameda, at Yim’s home in the 3100 block of Herriott Avenue in Oakland in the early morning hours of April 2, 2011.
Yim also was convicted of assault with a firearm and mayhem for shooting another man, Paul Park, during the incident and has a prior robbery conviction, which increased his sentence. Prosecutor Allyson Donovan said Yim and Phan were friends but a conversation about the existence of God eventually sparked the shooting, which she said was “extremely senseless.” Donovan said Yim got upset when Phan said he didn’t believe in God and asked Yim where God was when Yim lost in a video game they had been playing and when Yim’s father collapsed and died of a stroke several years earlier.
The prosecutor said Yim threw his video game controller through a television screen at his home but Phan tried to calm him down. Yim didn’t respond, so Phan told Yim that if he was upset he should just go get his gun, Donovan said. Yim waited five minutes, walked into his bedroom, grabbed and loaded his semi-automatic rifle and shot Phan six times, according to the prosecutor. Yim testified that he fired in self-defense because Phan had a black object in his hand that he thought was a gun. But Donovan said Phan was only holding a cellphone, never had a gun and never threatened Yim and the murder was carried out in “execution style.”
She said all six shots that Yim fired at Phan hit his body between his waist and his head and the final shot was fired less than a foot from Phan’s head as Phan lay on the ground while bleeding from the impact of the initial shots. Yim testified during the trial that, “I was really drunk that night” and said he remembered the first shot and the last shot but not the shots in between. His attorney, Mario Andrews, said after the verdict that he thought Yim should only have been convicted of manslaughter under the theory of imperfect self-defense because he thinks Yim didn’t intend to kill Phan and shot at him with the mistaken belief that Phan had a gun. Andrews also said he doesn’t think Yim fully knew what he was doing because he was under the influence of alcohol and drugs.
Donovan said Yim was mildly impaired but knew what he was doing because he was able to walk away from the scene, get rid of the murder weapon, drive out of town and buy new clothes so he wouldn’t be wearing the clothes he had on at the time of the shooting. Donovan said today that she’s “pleased” with the verdict against Yim and she believes Alameda County Superior Court Judge Thomas Reardon “gave him a fair sentence based on his conduct and the circumstances of the shooting.” Donovan said she also hopes that the sentencing “will bring some closure to Mr. Phan’s family.”
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