By Bay City News
Four San Francisco men were sentenced to life in prison this afternoon in Marin County Superior Court for the first-degree murder of Novato businessman Tong Van Le in September 2008.
The four defendants were indicted on June 11, 2009, on murder and conspiracy charges with the special circumstances of lying in wait and killing a witness to prevent him from testifying.
Le was expected to testify against Larry Blay Jr., 23, who was arrested on suspicion of robbing Le's Nassar Market in San Francisco on Aug. 23, 2008.
The San Francisco District Attorney's Office dropped the robbery charge against Blay after Le, the key witness, was murdered on Sept. 13, 2008.
The indictment alleged the defendants followed Le home from his San Francisco market and ambushed him in his 1991 Acura in the garage of his home on Pizarro Avenue on Sept. 13, 2008.
Defendant Kevin Abram, 21, was determined to be the shooter, and Larry Blay Jr. was alleged to have initiated and encouraged the slaying from his San Francisco jail cell.
The other defendants who were indicted are Deandre Blay, 21, Larry Blay's brother, C. Autis Johnson III, 21, and Sean Demetrius Washington, 27. Washington pleaded guilty to voluntary manslaughter in return for a 5-year prison sentence.
The other four defendants were convicted in Marin County Superior Court in May 2012 of conspiracy and first-degree murder with the special circumstances.
Larry Blay Jr. and Abram, the gunman, were sentenced to life without parole, Marin County District Attorney Ed Berberian said.
Deandre Blay and Johnson were sentenced to 26 years to life in prison, Berberian said.
Judge Terrence Boren stayed the sentences for the defendants on charges of conspiracy to dissuade a witness, Berberian said.
Le's widow addressed the court for 45 minutes with the help of a Vietnamese interpreter, bringing a photo of her slain husband and placing it in view of the defendants, Berberian said.
“I have felt anger and hatred for all of you and I will never forgive you,” she said, speaking through a Vietnamese interpreter, according to the Marin Independent Journal. “I have never seen any trace of remorse in your eyes.”
The San Francisco Chronicle also reported that Le’s widow made a strong presence.
Through the translator, Nguyen described how her son had prepared a project for school in which he wrote, “I do hope my father will come back to life. I miss him very much.” Nguyen said all she could do was to "turn my head in another direction and cry."
She blasted the killers, saying she had looked at their faces "for any trace of remorse, but I did not see any."
Defense attorneys said they would appeal, Berberian said.
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