Sacto 9-1-1
December 28, 2011
South Sacramento area man sentenced to 16 years to life for killing wife

A south area man who stabbed his wife to death in what his lawyer described as a psychotic break spawned by post traumatic stress disorder was sentenced today to 16 years to life.

Sy Choy Saeteurn, 66, had pleaded no contest to second-degree murder in the fatal Dec. 8, 2010 attack on his wife of 40 years, Muang Saeteurn, 60.

Saeteurn also was found not guilty by reason of insanity to endangering his then-10-year-old daughter who escaped the family's Pinot Noir Way residence and reported to authorities her father's knife assault on her mother.

As a result of Saeteurn's dual plea, he will spend at least the first seven years of his term in Napa State Hospital, under the sentencing handed down by Sacramento Superior Court Judge John P. Winn. If Saeteurn recovers his sanity, he will be transferred to the state prison system.

A son and a daughter of the couple asked the judge for leniency for their father. They both said that Saeteurn had never displayed any violence and had no criminal record prior the killing of their mother.

Saeteurn's lawyer, Assistant Public Defender Sue Karlton, said in an interview that her client fought in the wars that had wracked his native Laos 45 years ago and that he suffered from post traumatic stress disorder.

Karlton said her client had never displayed any PTSD symptoms until just before the killing. She said he was upset the day of his attack on his wife by a mailman who Saeteurn mistakenly thought was a soldier engaging in battle. She said Saeteurn believed his wife was part of an attack that was being launched against him.

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