Fugitive gets 20 years for 1997 slaying
By RENEE WINKLER
Vietnamese immigrant who was a fugitive for nine years was
sentenced Friday to 20 years in state prison for killing another
Vietnamese man who had attempted to act as a peacemaker.
Thach, 29, was arrested in August in Florida in connection with
the murder of Nhut Thach, 47, who was not a relative.
Thach had worked as a butcher at the Littman Grocery Store in
North Camden and was a respected presence in Camden's Vietnamese
community. He and his family had provided support for other new
immigrants after they arrived in South Jersey in 1987.
investigation showed the defendant had warned the victim's son
that he was coming to their house in the 3400 block of Westfield
Avenue in East Camden on the night of March 24, 1997, to resolve
an ongoing dispute.
believed Thach's son Hung Thach had made telephone threats. The
two men had quarreled previously at a bowling alley in Pennsauken,
according to investigative reports of the killing.
Thach went out to the street to attempt to resolve differences
between the two young men but Hieu Thach pulled a handgun and
began to fire.
bullet hit Nhut Thach in the head, killing him. A second shot
wounded the intended victim, then 19, who was pushing his younger
brother into the house for safety.
Thach, now 20 and a student at Rutgers University in New
Brunswick, told Superior Court Judge Samuel Natal he "was 10
when my father was taken away. Watching his body lying there I
felt that all my dreams were shattered."
brother tried his best to guide me, but sometimes I just felt like
I was lost," John Thach said.
sister, Trang Thach, 32, described her father as "the best
dad in the world. He worked seven days a week for his family. He
never spent even $100 on himself."
said her father pushed his children to do well in school,
"but we were lost. We didn't know what we were doing."
to Hieu Thach, she said, "he doesn't treasure human
second man charged in connection with the fatal shooting, Sica
Lam, was convicted of reckless manslaughter for driving the killer
to the Thach home. He was paroled in 2001.