In 2009, Lam Luong, a Vietnamese immigrant, was convicted of capital murder in the deaths of four children who were thrown off the Dauphin Island Bridge in Mobile County in Alabama in January of 2008. In 2013, the Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals reversed Luong’s conviction. Now, the Alabama Supreme Court has ruled that the decision made by the appeals court was wrong. Luong is now once again facing execution, according to a news article at U.S. News & World Report.
In 2013, Luong’s conviction was reversed by the Alabama appeals court after it was determined that the denial of funds for the defendant’s defense lawyer to travel to Vietnam was an error made by the trial court, and that pretrial publicity was prejudicial. On March 14, the Alabama Supreme Court determined that the lower court’s decision was wrong in a 5 to 3 ruling. State Attorney General Luther Strange said that he was “thankful” that the supreme court heard prosecutors’ arguments, and that Luong’s conviction and death sentence will stand.
The four children thrown off the bridge included three of Luong’s own, and one which belonged to his wife from a prior relationship. Kieu Phan said in court that Luong had been unemployed, and that he was seeing another woman. She also testified that Luong had been using crack cocaine.
Justice Lyn Stuart of the Supreme Court wrote that the defendant’s attorneys did not provide the court with detailed information regarding the defendant’s childhood which would support that important evidence would be obtained through a state-paid trip to Vietnam. She also wrote that in reviewing the record, there was no indication that media coverage would have incited indignation, anger, or revulsion to the extent that the jurors which were chosen could not have decided the defendant’s innocence or guilt based only on the evidence. Three of the Supreme Court justices who did not agree with the court’s decision felt that the media coverage in the case was “sensational,” and that it was difficult to imagine a criminal case involving more prejudicial publicity.
Michigan criminal appeal attorneys know how difficult it is to appeal a criminal conviction and/or sentence. When a state Supreme Court reverses a decision made by the appeals court which is in favor of the defendant, it is even more heartbreaking. Those who have been wrongly convicted or who feel that mistakes were made in the criminal justice process must work with a criminal appeals lawyer who is experienced, skilled, and capable in the appeals process.