U.S. high court says no to appeal from Miss. inmate

Published 4:18 pm Tuesday, April 8, 2008

The U.S. Supreme Court has declined to hear an appeal from Mississippi death row inmate Thong Le.

In 2005, the Mississippi Supreme Court upheld Le’s conviction and death sentence for the murders of three members of a family on the Gulf Coast. Last year, the Mississippi court denied Le permission to file a post-conviction petition in Jackson County Circuit Court. The justices said Le had nothing to argue in a new appeal that would win him a new trial.

The U.S. Supreme Court this past week denied Le’s request to hear his appeal.

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Le was convicted in 2002 in Jackson County for the murders of Minh Hieu Thi Huynh, 46, and her daughters, Thuy Hang Huynh Nguyen, 15, and Thanh Truc Nuynh Nguyen, 11. He received three death sentences.

Le claimed he participated in the robbery of the family but had nothing to do with the killings.

Prosecutors said Le went to the family’s house in St. Martin on Nov. 1, 2001, to rob them of $1,300. The daughters, home alone, refused to give Le and his co-defendant, Ngan Tran, the money.

Prosecutors said Le and Tran tied up, beat and strangled the girls. They also attacked the mother when she came home later that night, even after she gave them money.

Le did not testify at his trial. According to the court record, jurors heard him confess to the crime in his taped interview with police.

Tran committed suicide in April 2002 while being held at the Jackson County Jail.

Other testimony at Le’s trial came from five Jackson County Jail inmates who said Tran had bragged about the killings after he was arrested but had told them that Le didn’t participate in the murders.

On cross-examination, though, four of the inmates said Le never denied murdering the family, according to the court record.