IKO TRIAL: Closing arguments offered Thursday
Attorneys offered closing arguments Thursday in the trial of Quochuy “Tony” Tran, who stands accused of murdering Ichinkhorloo “Iko” Bayarasaikhan on October 31, 2007 during a botched robbery attempt in Washington Park. A jury will now determine Tran’s innocence or guilt.
In a 90-minute argument to jurors, prosecutor Tim Wellman methodically detailed the series of events that he believes led up to Bayarsaikhan’s killing and the legal reasoning that, he said, supports a first degree murder conviction for Tran.
He said Tran was part of a group of teens who got in a series of confrontations that included an earlier botched robbery attempt before entering Washington Park with the intention of robbing the teens in Bayarsaikhan’s group. And Wellman said that when members of the park group he had just tried to rob chased him, he turned and fired the gun at them before fleeing, striking and killing Bayarsaikhan.
He said Tran made a conscious decision to fire into the crowd and that he showed intent to kill by doing so. Wellman said witnesses heard Tran yell, “This ain’t no cap gun. You think I’m playing?” before squeezing the trigger.
Bayarsaikhan’s mother, Uranchimeg Khishigdorj, wiped away tears as Wellman told jurors about the family’s move from Mongolia in 2004 and about her 15-year-old daughter’s successes at Alameda High School, where she was a junior. At one point, Wellman flashed Bayarsaikhan’s autopsy photo across a viewing screen in Judge Carrie Panetta’s courtroom in Alameda County Superior Court.
“The defendant killed Iko by using a firearm during the commission of a robbery. Hold him accountable for what he did by finding him guilty,” Wellman told jurors.
Tran’s defense attorney, Annie Beles, asked jurors to return a not guilty verdict in Tran’s case. Beles, who urged jurors to separate their sympathy for Bayarsaikhan from the facts of the case, said Wellman failed to prove Tran fired the shot that killed Bayarsaikhan, that the shot was fired during the commission of a robbery or that it was premeditated. She said the robbery attempt had ended and that Tran and the others were leaving before the shooting occurred.
Beles pointed the finger at another member of Tran’s group who testified that he, and not Tran, fired the shot that killed Bayarsaikhan. The youth, who The Island is not naming because he is a minor and because he was not tried as an adult in the case, had told police that Tran shot the Alameda teen. The .22 caliber gun police believe was used to kill Bayarsaikhan has never been found.
“(The boy) stood up here and said to you, ‘I shot the last shot.’ That alone could give you reasonable doubt,” Beles said, referring to the shot that is believed to have killed Bayarsaikhan. “The way (he) testified had the mark of a tortured young man who was finally ready to come clean. He manned up on the stand.”
Wellman argued that the teen lied on the stand to protect Tran and to avoid being considered a “snitch,” and that the rest of the evidence he presented in the case showed Tran shot Bayarsaikhan. The teen and four other boys have already been convicted in juvenile court of first degree murder in Bayarsaikhan’s slaying.
“While his testimony may have sounded dramatic, it’s not truthful,” he said of the boy’s purported confession on the witness stand.
He said Tran should be convicted of first degree murder even if he didn’t fire the shot that killed Bayarsaikhan because he participated in an attempted robbery that led to her death.
Beles questioned the statements of the other youths convicted in the killing, saying they had a motive to lie in order to protect themselves from further repercussions. And she said other witnesses who were not involved in the shooting conflated details reported in the press with their own memories of what happened.
Tran hunched over a notebook at the defense table and watched the attorneys’ PowerPoint presentations scroll across the screen during closing arguments. He did not look at jurors and glanced back into the gallery only as Judge Panetta called breaks in the arguments and spectators were ushered out of the courtroom.
The arguments followed four weeks of testimony from 38 prosecution witnesses in the case. Beles rested her case Monday without calling witnesses.