Death Penalty Upheld For Vietnam War Refugee Who Went On Hospital Killing Rampage

Orange County's Dung Dinh Anh Trinh couldn't control his anger in September 1999, after his 72-year-old mother suffered a fatal heart attack.

"You American people kill [sic] my mother," Trinh declared to police after a nasty, retaliation crime spree inside the West Anaheim Medical Center. "Now I kill you. You kill my people. I kill you. You know, you just kill [sic] my mother."

Distraught about what he saw as the evils of western medicine and doctors, the Anaheim immigrant from Vietnam in 1975 entered the hospital with two .38-caliber handguns and more than 100 rounds of ammunition.

When he was done, he'd ambushed and murdered three people. A fourth victim in the shooting survived because Trinh had trouble aiming his weapon.

After an Orange County jury convicted him of multiple counts of first degree murder, jurors couldn't agree on punishment. The first jury voted 10 to 2 for the death penalty. A second jury voted 11 to 1 for the ultimate punishment, but prosecutors won on their third try.

It helped that Trinh, who'd worked in various Vietnamese restaurants, testified he went to the hospital with a plan to kill as many people as he could, felt no remorse and will never apologize. He said the United States military committed genocide in Vietnam and wrecked that nation's traditional economy with a push for capitalism. He also demanded the death penalty so he could quickly join his mother in the afterlife.


Given that death penalty winners in California commonly spend 30 or 40 years in their cells and are rarely executed at San Quentin State Prison, Trinh's reunion plans weren't well considered.

This week, the California Supreme Court reviewed the punishment and, after considering and dismissing defense lawyer complaints, declared the outcome righteous.

Upshot: Trinh, 57, will continue to live on Death Row where he's been for more than 11 years.

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