HAYWARD, Wis. A jury convicted an Asian immigrant of
first-degree murder in the shooting deaths of six deer hunters,
rejecting his claims that he fired in self-defense after being shot
at and taunted by racial slurs.
Chai Soua Vang, an ethnic Hmong who came to this country from
Southeast Asia more than 20 years ago, faces mandatory life in
prison. Wisconsin does not have a death penalty.
Jurors deliberated about three hours before convicting Vang on
six counts of first-degree intentional homicide and three counts of
attempted homicide. In addition to the six dead, two hunters were
wounded in the shootings Nov. 21 that began when the group of
hunters confronted Vang for being on private land.
Vang, 36, dressed in a business suit with family members seated
behind him, showed no visible emotion as the judge read the
The slayings occurred during the state's beloved deer hunting
season and exposed racial tension between the predominantly white
north woods residents and immigrants from the Hmong ethnic group.
Outside court, Vang's sister questioned the jury's makeup.
"Everyone was white," Chou Vang said. "They do not
understand. They will never understand what my brother went through
out there," she said. "He was not a dog to sit there and let them
shoot at him. He was proud of who he is."
Defense lawyer Steven Kohn said the verdict was not a surprise.
"We had no illusions. The facts were incredibly difficult from a
defense standpoint," he said.
The original jury pool of 450 people included minorities, but
most asked not to serve on the jury because of a conflict or
personal feelings. "They were given the same deference as the
Caucasians," Kohn said.
Attorney General Peg Lautenschlager said in her closing argument
that Vang ambushed some of the victims and chased down one of them.
But the defense said the confrontation was all about racial
Vang, a truck driver from St. Paul, Minn., came to the United
States more than 20 years ago from a refugee camp in Thailand.
He said the shootings happened after one of the white hunters
used profanities and racial slurs when angrily confronting him for
trespassing in a tree stand used to hunt deer last fall.
Two survivors of the shootings testified that only one shot was
fired at Vang, and that was after he had already shot the victims.
Cross-examined by Lautenschlager, Vang was asked if each victim
deserved to die. Vang answered "no" in some cases and "yes" in
He told jurors he was on the rifle team in high school in
California and later served in the National Guard, where he was
trained to shoot to kill. He also described himself as an
Associated Press Writer Todd Richmond in Hayward contributed to