A Fresno man was sentenced Wednesday to 60 years to life in prison for killing an unarmed, drunken man who the prosecution says was imitating the old “Three Stooges” eye-poke gag when he was shot inside a crowded restaurant five years ago.
In announcing the punishment, Superior Court Judge Jonathan Conklin said Lee Saysanasy, 46, is a dangerous man who committed “a point-blank assassination” of 35-year-old Alvin Khamchan in November 2011 inside the MeKhong Restaurant on Belmont Avenue.
The victim’s sister, Anada Keomany, agreed with the sentence.
“You’re a monster. You are a dangerous man,” Keomany told Saysanasy, who needed a Laotian interpreter to understand the proceedings. “You ruined my family’s life. You deserve to spend the rest of your life in prison,” she said, noting that her brother had three children.
Nothing excuses his behavior.
Judge Jonathan Conklin of the defendant
The killing of Khamchan was captured by the eatery’s surveillance camera, which the jury viewed during Saysanasy’s trial in March before finding him guilty of second-degree murder.
Police say the MeKhong Restaurant on Belmont Avenue, east of Blackstone Avenue, had been the site of several other shootings, including the killing of Albert Thao, 27, in September 2015.
During Saysanasy’s trial, prosecutor Brian Hutchins said the defendant gunned down Khamchan in front of dozens of people during a loud party in the early hours of Nov. 13, 2011.
Hutchins told the jury that the victim was smiling and drunk when he put his fingers toward Saysanasy’s eyes – imitating the “Three Stooges.” After getting his fingers swatted away, Hutchins said, Khamchan made a hand gesture as if to say, “What’s your problem?” That’s when he was shot at close range.
Defense attorney Beth Ann Lee, however, had told the jury that the hand gesture meant “Come on, let’s go,” like an invitation to fight. Lee said Khamchan was putting a hex on Saysanasy when he put his fingers to the defendant’s eyes. Lee said the victim cursed Saysanasy and told him: “You’re dead.”
In arguing for self-defense, Lee said the video didn’t show what happened before the victim was shot, when he and his friends had threatened to kill Saysanasy.
You’re a monster. You are a dangerous man.
Anada Keomany, the victim’s sister
At Wednesday’s hearing, Saysanasy was represented by attorney Eric Christensen, who asked the judge to reduce the charge to manslaughter, saying his client suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder. Conklin denied the motion, saying the jury’s verdict of murder was appropriate because the victim never posed a threat. Before he was shot three times at close range, Khamchan showed Saysanasy the palms of his hands, Conklin said.
“Nothing excuses his behavior,” Conklin said.
Court records say Saysanasy killed another man in June 1992. A fight over a woman prompted Saysanasy, then 22, to fatally shoot Sombane Sayasen, 24, inside the MeKhong Restaurant at Kings Canyon Road and Cedar Avenue. Police said Sayasen was unarmed when he was killed. Initially charged with murder, Saysanasy pleaded no contest to manslaughter and was sentenced to 15 years in prison, court records say.