Jury deciding between murder or heat of passion in case of Fresno man who killed wife and new lover

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Leuth Sengsongkham and Rattana Chounramany lived together, worked together, and shared seven children together-- but they started growing apart. (KFSN)

A 33 year marriage started to crack in the spring of 2015. Leuth Sengsongkham and Rattana Chounramany lived together, worked together, and shared seven children together-- but they started growing apart.

Prosecutor William Lacy said, "Leuth began to suspect that Rattana was having an affair. They began sleeping in separate beds."

Everyone agrees what happened next-- Sengsongkham shot his wife and Keo Thongkhamvilay in the field where they all worked, and left them there while he drove to see two daughters in Las Vegas.

When his daughters turned him in, Fresno County Sheriff's detectives went to Nevada and found the murder weapon in Sengsongkham's car and his wife's blood on his shoes. They also got a confession, and Lacy said what he admitted proves he committed murder.

SENGSONGKHAM: "I wake up and I put the gun in my pocket."

DETECTIVE: "You woke up and put it in your pocket?"

SENGSONGKHAM: "Yeah."

DETECTIVE: "How come?"
SENGSONGKHAM: "Because I was so mad with them a long time ago, but I never take out my gun. Only that day."

Lacy said Sengsongkham admitted to premeditation, but Defense Attorney Roberto Dulce said the Laotian born killer didn't really understand the conversation with detectives.

Dulce said Sengsongkham just snapped and made a rash decision in a fit of rage.

"On April 15, 2015, for the very first time, Rattana Chounramany told her husband of 33 years 'I am leaving you.'"

The 62-year-old faces life in prison if the jury finds him guilty of murder. His attorney said it's manslaughter, which would mean a prison sentence as short as 12 years.

Related Topics:
double murdercourt casefresnoFresno
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