Both sides in a Fresno murder trial agree Peter Yang killed his 59-year-old father, shooting him six times in the front doorway of the family’s southeast apartment last year.
In Thursday’s opening statements, prosecutor Gabriel Brickey told a Fresno County Superior Court jury the killing of Foung Yang was premeditated, first-degree murder.
But defense attorney Scott Baly said the shooting was the result of Peter Yang’s lifetime of stress and pain from hiding a family secret – his father abused him as a child behind closed doors.
If convicted of murder, Peter Yang, 26, faces 50 years to life in prison.
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The shooting happened around 6:30 p.m. June 6, 2014, at Torrey Ridge Apartments on Clovis Avenue near Tulare Avenue.
The killing was unusual because Peter Yang had no prior criminal record.
Baly told the jury that Peter Yang, his wife and two sons, ages 6 and 3, lived in the apartment, but Foung Yang came and went as he pleased and often asked the family for money.
This case is not a whodunit because Peter fired the gun that shot and killed his father.
Defense attorney Scott Baly
Tension was high, Baly said, because Peter Yang, who had been injured in a car wreck, took care of the children while his wife worked at a retirement home. Baly said Peter Yang was upset with his father because Foung Yang often smoked opium and sometimes used methamphetamine in the apartment when the children were there.
In fact, when Foung Yang died he had opiates in his body, Baly told the jury.
On the day of the killing, father and son had a physical altercation before the father left, Baly said.
When Foung Yang returned to the apartment, he was carrying apricots in a grocery bag, Brickey said. He knocked on the front door several times before his son answered. Peter Yang didn’t answer right away because he was upstairs getting his gun, Brickey said.
He opened the door and fired his Glock 19 eight times at his father, who was five feet away, said Brickey, who demonstrated for the jury how Yang held the gun with both hands.
The bullets hit the victim in the face, neck, right shoulder and back. Neighbors called 911. Police found the victim lying dead in a dirt flower bed.
Under arrest, Peter Yang told police his father was verbally abusive and menacing, according to his taped interview with Fresno police Detective Ray Villalvazo.
Peter Yang also told the detective he was scared of his father, Baly told the jury.
The trial in Judge W. Kent Hamlin’s courtroom is expected to take two weeks. Baly told the jury Peter Yang will likely testify about being abused and what was going through his mind when he shot his father.
“This case is not a whodunit because Peter fired the gun that shot and killed his father,” Baly said, noting that Yang’s children were in the home when the killing happened.
When Foung Yang knocked on the door, a fearful Peter Yang was protecting his family because he “didn’t know what his father was capable of doing,” Baly said.