Killers in 2008 Jenner beach slaying of Vutha Au get life in prison

  • Sarith Prak, front and his brother David Prak, left, with Preston Khaoone and Quentin Russell, far right, are led out of Sonoma County Superior Court Friday July 27, 2012 after receiving life terms in the gang kidnap and killing of Vutha Au in 2008. (Kent Porter / Press Democrat) 2012

Rudy Kham and his wife Lean Sin escaped the Killing Fields of Cambodia in 1979 in search of a safe and peaceful life in America.

They settled in Santa Rosa in 1981 and raised three children while working long days to support their young family.

But violence beset the family again in 2007, first when one son was kidnapped and tortured by gang members in a dispute over drugs and money.

Then, in 2008, related gang members abducted another son, Vutha Au, 24, and shot him nine times in a parking lot at Blind Beach on the Sonoma Coast, an apparent effort to send a message to the first brother about "snitching."

On Friday, the four men convicted of murdering Au in retaliation for his brother's testimony in the 2007 case were ordered to spend the rest of their lives in prison without the possibility of parole.

In an emotional court hearing, Kham struggled to compose himself as he explained to Judge Ken Gnoss what the violence has done to his family, from fleeing the deadly Khmer Rouge in Cambodia to encountering gang violence in the U.S.

"I wish ... if I could do anything to bring my son back, I would do it for him," he said. "I believe in God. God has a plan for everything and everyone."

Still, he said, sometimes he wants to sleep and never wake up. "My loved ones are my life," he said.

A video prepared for the hearing showed Au in baby pictures, at birthday parties and family vacations, a happy boy growing into a social young man.

"You took our son ... you took our brother ... you took our friend," words flashed on the screen to a song of loss. "You broke our hearts. Why?"

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