Wichita man facing murder trial pleads guilty in 2012 throat-cutting

08/25/2013 11:30 AM

08/06/2014 9:36 AM

A Wichitan accused of cutting another man’s throat with a large hunting knife has pleaded guilty to a lesser murder charge.

Caesar K. Louis, 25, pleaded guilty Friday to second-degree murder, aggravated robbery and aggravated burglary, said Dan Dillon, spokesman for the Sedgwick County District Attorney’s Office. Louis had been charged with first-degree murder in the Aug. 4, 2012, death of Pheng Xiong. His trial on the first-degree murder charge was to begin Monday.

Louis entered the plea as a result of negotiations with prosecutors, and he will be sentenced Oct. 1, Dillon said.

Another suspect, Vat Sana Khamvongsa, testified last year that he was with Louis and a third man, Jerry Thach, when they went into Xiong’s home in the 800 block of South Erie. Khamvongsa testified at a December hearing that while Thach held Xiong’s feet, Louis cut the 35-year-old’s throat. A roommate discovered the body.

Thach faces a murder trial Oct. 15.

The killing came as revenge for an earlier confrontation, said Khamvongsa, who agreed to plead guilty to a reduced charge and testify against the other defendants. He faces sentencing Oct. 15.

Louis has remained in the Sedgwick County Jail since his arrest more than a year ago; he has been held on a $1 million bond.

In an Aug. 16 court document, Louis’ attorney, Casey Cotton, said, “Mr. Louis fears that the prosecution will try to use snitches and informants to aid in the prosecution of the case against him.”

According to Khamvongsa’s testimony last year, after a night in Old Town, he and the other defendants gathered in a home; there, someone talked about finding Xiong to get revenge for the previous confrontation.

Khamvongsa testified that he thought the others might beat Xiong but that he didn’t see the “arm-length” knife until they arrived at Xiong’s house. Khamvongsa said he was “just tagging along,” that one of the men entered the locked house through a window and that Xiong was taken to a bedroom and killed.

According to an affidavit Louis gave the court in requesting a court-appointed attorney, he was working for a manufacturing business around the time of his arrest.

Records show Louis was discharged from Community Corrections probation in April 2011 after he was sentenced in 2010 for a criminal-threat conviction stemming from a 2007 incident.

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