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16-year-old faces first-degree murder charges in the May killing of Chanh Chanthivong

  • The Wichita Eagle
  • Published Saturday, Dec. 28, 2013, at 7:58 a.m.

Editor's note: The story was originally published on June 30, 2001.

It started, a detective testified Friday, when a 16-year-old gang member felt disrespected by people he suspected of being in a rival gang.

It ended early May 25, police Detective Timothy Relph said, in a brutal way: Armed intruders burst into a Wichita home, lined up in a bedroom and blasted away at 20-year-old Chanh Chanthivong. Then someone stabbed his bullet-riddled body out of anger that he had fired back. He suffered at least 16 wounds, his family says.

After Relph's testimony, District Judge David Kennedy ruled there was enough evidence to try Sashada Makthepharak, the 16-year-old, and Binh Ly, 18. Both are charged with first-degree murder and aggravated burglary in Chanthivong's death.

Relph said the account of the killing came from his interview of Makthepharak.

Kennedy also ruled that Makthepharak will be tried as an adult largely because he failed to stay out of trouble while in the juvenile court system.

Kennedy set their trials for Aug. 13.

Both pleaded not guilty.

Makthepharak's lawyer, David Hawley, tried to downplay the interview with his client.

"It's not a confession, " Hawley said. It doesn't mean his client fired any gun, he said.

Ly's lawyer, Ronald Lyon, argued there was not enough evidence to try his client, even though Lyon concedes his client was wounded by Chanthivong.

"No one has suggested that my client . . . possessed a gun, shot a gun, " Lyon said.

Kennedy, the judge, countered: "The testimony shows that this defendant was not a guest in that house" and traveled all the way to Salina for treatment of his wound.

Chanthivong's family has said he was not a gang member, that he was only visiting the house when he was shot.

The lawyers said there is no evidence their clients are gang members, either. When Lyon argued that to Kennedy in an unsuccessful attempt to have Ly's bond lowered, Kennedy said: "Well, he's hanging out with gang members, and he gets himself shot."

Relph, the detective, said that according to Makthepharak, the killing stemmed from an earlier confrontation outside the house where Chanthivong was shot.

Relph said Makthepharak gave this account of the confrontation about two hours before the killing: That he felt threatened when people from the house, in the Planeview neighborhood, came toward him. That he pulled out a .22-caliber gun, pointed it at them and pulled the trigger, but it wouldn't fire because the safety was on. That he ran from them, jumped into a truck and left with others.

Police say no one reported the confrontation.

Relph said Makthepharak told him he felt insulted by those outside the house. He and others decided to return.

Relph testified that Makthepharak said he and nine others in two cars returned to the house armed with 17 guns.

According to Makthepharak, Relph said, three attackers kicked in a door. Makthepharak said he was one of the intruders, Relph said. As they barged in, they threatened two people before converging on Chanthivong, Relph said.

He said Makthepharak told him that as the attackers fled, he learned that Ly had been wounded in the leg.

In other testimony, Salina police Lt. Gerald Shaft said he talked to Ly in a Salina hospital emergency room about two hours after the Wichita shooting.

Shaft said Ly told him he and a friend were driving from Salina when someone in a passing car shot at them, wounding him. Salina police alerted other agencies that they had a gunshot victim. When Wichita police learned that Ly was being treated at the Salina hospital, they had a guard posted by him.

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