A handcuffed Franco Edgar Neftali entered an Orange County courtroom this afternoon with a smirk on his face but by the time his sentencing hearing was over the 44-year-old killer found himself frowning after getting a 50 years to life prison sentence.
A jury convicted Neftali of fatally shooting 67-year-old Cambodian immigrant Son Neou in the head after he'd lost hundreds of dollars playing a Cambodian dice game at a Santa Ana apartment complex in 2007.
To the immense frustration of the victim's family, Neftali had a defense lawyer proclaim his innocence and declare that he had not received a fair trial before Superior Court Judge M. Marc Kelly's issued punishment.
An unamused Kelly rejected both assertions.
Senior Deputy District Attorney Scott Simons
said Neftali was upset that he'd lost money before the killing.
The victim's wife–a survivor of Khmer Rouge atrocities, son and daughter submitted touching, emotional impact statements.
“I can never forgive him,” said the victim's visibly distraught son, Sam Son
, who was a special forces soldier deployed in Iraq when his father was killed. “My mother lost everything . . . I'd rather have had two soldiers come to my mother and tell her I was killed than this.”
Kelly asked Neftali if he wanted to address the court but the killer–a short, pudgy man who worked as an apartment manager–said through an interpreter, “I have nothing to comment.”
“You will be transported to a state prison forthwith,” said the judge.
–R. Scott Moxley / OC Weekly
R. Scott Moxley’s award-winning investigative journalism has touched nerves for two decades. An angry congressman threatened to break Moxley’s knee caps. A dirty sheriff promised his critical reporting was irrelevant and then landed in prison. The U.S. House of Representatives debated his work. Federal prosecutors credited his stories for the arrest of a doctor who sold fake medicine to dying patients. Moxley has won Journalist of the Year honors at the Los Angeles Press Club; been named Distinguished Journalist of the Year by the LA Society of Professional Journalists; and hailed by two New York Times Magazine writers for his “herculean job” exposing Southern California law enforcement corruption.