"Guilty plea clears out Gwinnett’s death penalty docket," is by Andria Simmons for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
Gwinnett County’s longest-pending death penalty prosecution ended Tuesday with a guilty plea from a Vietnamese nail salon owner who gunned down a man and his 2-year-old son over a gambling debt in 2004.
There are now no death penalty cases left on the county’s docket, since two other pending cases have been resolved by defendants entering guilty pleas within the past three months.
Khanh Dinh Phan, 49, of Duluth was sentenced by Superior Court Judge Ronnie K. Batchelor to serve two concurrent life sentences for the Dec. 29, 2004, slayings of his friend Hung Thai, 37, and his 2-year-old son Hugh. Under current parole board rules he could become eligible for parole 30 years from the date of his arrest. By then he’ll be 72 years old.
Phan’s trial had been forestalled numerous times over the years because of underfunding in the state capital defender program that resulted in several pretrial appeals. Prosecutors set a deadline of Jan. 28 for Phan to accept the negotiated plea or be prepared to go to trial in the near future and face the possibility of getting the death sentence if convicted, Jones said.
Earlier coverage of the Phan case begins at the link.