A Sacramento Superior Court jury today acquitted Teng Thao, the alleged "homeless hitman," of murder charges in the Jan. 9, 2011, shotgun shooting death of Jenny Cha.
The jury returned its verdict after more than a day of deliberations, meaning that the 59-year-old Thao is likely to be released sometime today.
Prosecutors charged Thao with setting up in a field next to a West Lemon Hill apartment building that had been converted into a gambling den. Cha, 25, who was in the gambling parlor at 37th Street and 45th Avenue, had stepped outside for a cigarette around 3:15 a.m. when she was shot in the back with a shotgun that had been pointed at her through a fence.
Authorities believed it was a jealous ex-boyfriend who arranged the killing.
Thao's attorney, Assistant Public Defender Norm Dawson, argued to the jury that the witnesses who identified Thao as being in the field on the other side of the fence and then leaving it in the moments after the shooting couldn't be believed