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Brothers draw long sentences in separate murder cases

  • The Wichita Eagle
  • Published Tuesday, Oct. 22, 2013, at 4:21 p.m.
  • Updated Wednesday, Jan. 29, 2014, at 6:45 a.m.

Two Wichita brothers received long prison sentences Tuesday for their roles in two unrelated homicides.

Steven Louis, 23, was sentenced to life plus 13 3/4 years in prison for his role in a Dec. 30, 2011, shootout that resulted in the death of Kao Pou Saechao, 19. Louis was convicted by a jury in September of first-degree murder and 11 other charges.

Less than 30 minutes after that sentencing, Caesar Louis, 25, was sentenced to more than 28 years in prison for the Aug. 4, 2012, death of Pheng Xiong, 35, who was killed by three men who forced their way into his home and cut his throat with an arm-length knife. Caesar Louis pleaded guilty in August to second-degree murder, aggravated robbery and aggravated burglary.

Evidence at his trial showed that Steven Louis fired 15 shots during a shootout between rival street gangs in the parking lot of the Bai Wei restaurant at 1845 S. Rock Road. Prosecutors said Louis and Saechao were affiliated with the same gang. Louis was charged with felony murder after prosecutors determined that he was in the process of committing an inherently dangerous felony when Saechao was killed.

The defense said Louis returned fire in self-defense only after a member of the rival gang began shooting at him. His lawyer, Val Wachtel, argued unsuccessfully that his client’s actions were protected under the state’s stand-your-ground law.

Prosecutors said that after the shootout, Louis drove to the 2200 block of South Stoneybrook and fired 18 more shots at a car and house that he thought were occupied by members of the rival gang.

District Judge Ben Burgess imposed a mandatory life prison term on the murder conviction and ordered Louis to serve a consecutive sentence of 13 3/4 years for attempted murder in the Stoneybrook shooting. Louis will be eligible for parole on the murder charge after serving 20 years in prison. If he were to be paroled on that charge, he would start serving the sentence for attempted murder.

Dung Anh Nguyen, 23, who police say fired the shot that killed Saechao, is scheduled to stand trial Jan 27.

The case involving Caesar Louis arose from the killing of Xiong, who was found dead in his home at 830 S. Erie by a roommate. Wichita police said the three suspects in the case, after spending the night in Old Town, decided to go to Xiong’s home to get revenge for a previous confrontation.

A co-defendant, Jerry Thach, is scheduled to stand trial in January on first-degree murder charges. A third defendant, Vat Sana Khamvongsa, pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and agreed to testify against his co-defendants. He will be sentenced Jan. 24.

District Judge Doug Roth sentenced Caesar Louis to 23 3/4 years for second-degree murder and ordered him to serve a consecutive sentence of five years and one month for aggravated robbery.

Reach Hurst Laviana at 316-268-6499 or hlaviana@wichitaeagle.com. Follow him on Twitter: @hlaviana.

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