The California Supreme Court upheld the death sentence on Thursday for the man convicted of the first-degree murder of a Georgetown University alumnus who was murdered in 1996.

Thien Minh Ly (GRD ’95), a Vietnamese American and graduate of the Special Masters Program in physiology, was attacked while in-line skating on a high school tennis court in the southern California city of Tustin on Jan. 28, 1996. He was stabbed over 50 times, including 14 blows to the heart.

The jury found the murder to be in part motivated by racial bias, and the convicted murderer, Gunner Lindberg, has become the first person in California to be condemned to die for a racially motivated murder, according to The Los Angeles Times.

Lindberg’s attorney appealed the special circumstance charge that the crime was based on the victim’s race, citing a lack of evidence. However, the state high court ruled on Thursday that “the evidence overwhelmingly showed that the defendant was a racist who regarded nonwhites as subhuman and who, by his own admission, callously murdered victim Ly for the `racial movement.'”

Ly immigrated to the United States when he was 12 years old, and graduated from the University of California at Los Angeles in 1993 with a double major in biology and English. At UCLA, he was the president of the Vietnamese Student Association, and, according to the LA Times report, he had openly expressed a desire to serve as American ambassador to Vietnam.

Aureller Cabiness, academic coordinator of the biomedical graduate research organization who served as the administrative assistant for Ly’s Special Masters Program during his time at Georgetown, called him a “typical Abraham Lincoln-type” in an interview with The Hoya in 1996. “He came over to this country without knowing English . and he received his degree from Georgetown with distinction,” she said.

Ly was described as a “sincere religious person” by Fr. Joseph Sweeny, S.J., who was the chaplain of the medical school when Ly was a student. “Everyone who knew him has had a sad reaction to his death,” Sweeny told The Hoya in 1996. “That type of death added to the pain and sorrow of his friends.”

Lindberg was arrested after police discovered a letter that he had written to a former prison inmate who had been one of Lindberg’s pen pals.

“Oh I killed a Jap a while ago,” Lindberg wrote in the letter. “I seen this guy Roller blading and I had a knife . I stabbed him in the side about 7 or 8 times he rolled over a little so I stabbed his back out 18 or 19 times then he layed flat and I slit one side of his throught on his jugular vain . I wanted to go back and look, so we Did and he was dieing just then taking in some bloody gasps of air so I nidged his face with my shoe a few times.”

While Lindberg and his attorney were appealing the accusation that the crime was racially motivated, the state supreme court upheld the jury’s 1997 determination.

“Evidence showed the defendant’s particular racial animus against Asians,” the seven-justice panel reported.

As of yet, no date has been set for Lindberg’s execution.

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The California Supreme Court upheld the death sentence on Thursday for the man convicted of the first-degree murder of a Georgetown University alumnus who was murdered in 1996.

Thien Minh Ly (GRD ’95), a Vietnamese American and graduate of the Special Masters Program in physiology, was attacked while in-line skating on a high school tennis court in the southern California city of Tustin on Jan. 28, 1996. He was stabbed over 50 times, including 14 blows to the heart.

The jury found the murder to be in part motivated by racial bias, and the convicted murderer, Gunner Lindberg, has become the first person in California to be condemned to die for a racially motivated murder, according to The Los Angeles Times.

Lindberg’s attorney appealed the special circumstance charge that the crime was based on the victim’s race, citing a lack of evidence. However, the state high court ruled on Thursday that “the evidence overwhelmingly showed that the defendant was a racist who regarded nonwhites as subhuman and who, by his own admission, callously murdered victim Ly for the `racial movement.'”

Ly immigrated to the United States when he was 12 years old, and graduated from the University of California at Los Angeles in 1993 with a double major in biology and English. At UCLA, he was the president of the Vietnamese Student Association, and, according to the LA Times report, he had openly expressed a desire to serve as American ambassador to Vietnam.

Aureller Cabiness, academic coordinator of the biomedical graduate research organization who served as the administrative assistant for Ly’s Special Masters Program during his time at Georgetown, called him a “typical Abraham Lincoln-type” in an interview with The Hoya in 1996. “He came over to this country without knowing English . and he received his degree from Georgetown with distinction,” she said.

Ly was described as a “sincere religious person” by Fr. Joseph Sweeny, S.J., who was the chaplain of the medical school when Ly was a student. “Everyone who knew him has had a sad reaction to his death,” Sweeny told The Hoya in 1996. “That type of death added to the pain and sorrow of his friends.”

Lindberg was arrested after police discovered a letter that he had written to a former prison inmate who had been one of Lindberg’s pen pals.

“Oh I killed a Jap a while ago,” Lindberg wrote in the letter. “I seen this guy Roller blading and I had a knife . I stabbed him in the side about 7 or 8 times he rolled over a little so I stabbed his back out 18 or 19 times then he layed flat and I slit one side of his throught on his jugular vain . I wanted to go back and look, so we Did and he was dieing just then taking in some bloody gasps of air so I nidged his face with my shoe a few times.”

While Lindberg and his attorney were appealing the accusation that the crime was racially motivated, the state supreme court upheld the jury’s 1997 determination.

“Evidence showed the defendant’s particular racial animus against Asians,” the seven-justice panel reported.

As of yet, no date has been set for Lindberg’s execution.

Have a reaction to this article? Write a letter to the editor.

Comments are closed.