Fresno man admits to killing wife and her new lover, but won't admit to murder

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Leuth Sengsongkham sits alone at the defense table, a killer hoping to avoid spending the rest of his life isolated from his family. (KFSN)

Leuth Sengsongkham sits alone at the defense table, a killer hoping to avoid spending the rest of his life isolated from his family. Two years ago, he killed his wife of more than 30 years and the man she wanted to replace him.

"He just lost it when Rattana said she was moving in with Keo," said Roberto Dulce

Sengsongkham shot Rattana Chounramany and Keo Thongkhamvilay in the field where they all worked, and left them there while he drove to see two daughters in Las Vegas. Another farmworker found the victims just before Chounramany's family got worried, and came to the field themselves.

"He pointed to the bodies," said Inthanong Chounramany, victim's sister.

Word spread fast in the family and reached Nevada where his own daughter turned him in to police.

"I picked up the phone and told them my dad had just killed my mom," said Joann Chounramany, victim's daughter.

Detectives found the murder weapon in Sengsongkham's car and his wife's blood on his shoes. They said he admitted to killing her after about a year of the marriage going bad.

Prosecutor William Lacy said, "He actually even tells police he considered divorcing Rattana, but thought it was a better idea to kill her and then kill himself."

Sengsongkham is 62-years-old, he faces life in prison if the jury finds him guilty of murder. Whether he killed in a fit of rage after his wife rejected his one last attempt to get her back, as the defense claims, or thought about it for a while could be the difference between murder and manslaughter.

Sengsongkham's attorney is using a "heat of passion" defense, saying intense emotions provoked a rash decision, which would lead to a manslaughter conviction and a prison sentence of between 12 and 42 years.

Related Topics:
shootinghomicidedouble homicidefresnocourt caseFresno
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