After fewer than three hours of deliberation, a jury on Friday found an Atwater man guilty on two counts of first-degree murder in connection with a 2009 shooting in west Modesto.
Tou Vang Xiong shot his girlfriend, Gao Sheng Her, and friends Nhia Yang and Lee Pao Yang at close range after the four had smoked methamphetamine in a detached room behind Nhia Yang’s family home in west Modesto. Gao Sheng Her and Nhia Yang died quickly from multiple gunshot wounds, but Lee Pao Yang managed to escape and survived.
Defense attorney Ruben Villalobos argued that his client was under the influence of methamphetamine and was experiencing hallucinations when he fired an automatic rifle at the victims. For those reasons, he told the jury Xiong should be found guilty of the lesser charge of involuntary manslaughter, he said.
A forensic psychologist testified that Xiong was experiencing a “meth-induced psychosis” when he fired the rifle.
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Prosecutor John Baker argued Xiong knew exactly what he was doing and pointed to statements he made after shooting Nhia Yang.
Lee Pao Yang testified he heard Xiong say in an angry tone, “This is what you get, Nhia.”
The shooting occurred after an argument between Xiong and his girlfriend because she refused to have sex with him, Lee Pao Yang said.
Xiong was also found guilty of the attempted murder of Lee Pao Yang and assault with a deadly weapon on Nhia Yang’s sister, whom he held at gunpoint, demanding that she help him escape.
“I am pleased with the verdict,” Baker said Friday. “I’m pleased with the way the jury listened over the course of a lengthy trial, and I am very happy for any closure this can help get the families of the victims.”
Villalobos said he and his client will discuss options and likely will appeal.
The parties will return to court March 7, at which time a sentencing hearing will likely be set. Xiong faces life in prison.