By Andy Furillo
A judge today called slain Sacramento sheriff's Deputy Vu Nguyen "a true hero" and then sentenced the teenager convicted of shooting the officer to death on a gloomy mid-week morning three years ago to spend the rest of his life in prison with no chance of parole.
"He dedicated his life to shield us from dangerous gang members ... but also he was there to help people, to perhaps turn them from such a dark choice," Sacramento Superior Court Judge Cheryl Chun Meegan said of Nguyen.
The 37-year-old street cop was gunned down Dec. 19, 2007 while chasing a young but prolific lawbreaker through the backyards of a tough south Sacramento neighborhood.
"He gave his life in this and he is not forgotten," the judge said.
Jurors on April 28 convicted the youth who killed Nguyen. The defendant, Jimmy Siackasorn, is now 19-years-old. He was 16 at the time he murdered Nguyen.
Assistant Public Defender Sue Karlton filed a motion before the sentencing arguing that a life in prison without parole for a 16-year-old killer amounts to cruel and unusual punishment.
But Meegan said that Siackasorn "ambushed" Nguyen, "executed" him on top of a chicken coop behind a house on 37th Street. And she forcefully turned back the defense motion.
"This was a cold and vicious killing, and it was no less so because the number of years this defendant had lived on earth was 16 at the time he committed that crime," Meegan said.
Throughout his many arrests and stays in juvenile detention facilities before the murder, Siackasorn often told officers how he would like to kill them if he got a chance, according to testimony at trial.
The defendant sat with his hands folded in front of him during the sentencing and did not raise his eyes to meet the laser-stare Meegan laid on him while she sent him off to prison.
A slight tumult interrupted the proceedings when one of the murdered deputy's brothers, emotionally distraught, challenged Siackasorn to turn around and look at him when he read his victim's impact statement.
The defendant's face went blank while he continued to look down at his hands.
Another brother of the deputy, Thang Nguyen, told the court of a "void" in his family's life that is "irreconcilable."
Thang Nguyen told Siackasorn "you're still very young" and "you will one day feel remorse - this is my hope."
"But when you do feel remorse," Thang Nguyen said, "make no mistake. It's because you took a life ...You took a gift that was not yours to take."
Call The Bee's Andy Furillo, (916) 321-1141.
Photo caption: Jimmy Siackasorn shows little emotion after he was sentenced to 25 years to llife without the possibilty of parole on Friday, in Sacramento Superior Court. Photo by Hector Amezcua
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Judge quotes shooting suspect as saying deputy deserved to die - Feb. 25, 2010