Raleigh, NC -- A Vietnamese national who said he never understood his rights will still face a first-degree murder conviction under a Court of Appeals ruling Tuesday.
Long Thanh Nguyen was convicted of first-degree murder after stabbing his wife 12 times during an argument in August 2003. But Nguyen argued that he did not understand his rights the night of his arrest, and that his legal counsel should have, but did not, notify the Vietnamese consulate.
However, a trial court found that law enforcement officials provided Nguyen with a Vietnamese-speaking officer to help Nguyen understand his rights on the night of his arrest. Nguyen then waived his right to an attorney.
In an unanimous decision, three appellate judges said Nguyen failed to explain how contacting the Vietnamese consulate would have changed the outcome of his case.
"Even assuming that defendant would have contacted his consulate for assistance if notified of this right, it is unclear what assistance, if any, the Vietnamese consulate would have provided to defendant," Judge Rick Elmore wrote.
The appeals court also upheld first-degree murder convictions of:
-- Matthew Taylor, who was charged with killing a Franklinton man in 2004. Taylor raised a dozen objections to his case, including the use of cell phone text message transcripts. But judges found that Taylor "a fair trial free from prejudicial errors."
-- Nicario Christian, who was found guilty in the December 2003 drive-by shooting of Delmetro Bradford in Cumberland County. Evidence showed Bradford was shot by a passenger in a pickup truck as he and some friends were walking down a Fayetteville street.
-- Nathaniel Cauthen and Rayshawn Banner, who were found guilty in the robbery and fatal beating of Nathaniel Jones at his Forsyth County home in November 2002. Jones was the grandfather of Chris Paul. Jones was killed just one day after watching Paul sign his letter of intent to Wake Forest University, to play basketball.
Taylor, Christian, Cauthen and Banner were sentenced to life in prison without parole.