Unusual courtroom sighting sends loud message to jail shooting defendant

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An unusual sighting showed a strong stance in the case of Thong Vang, the man facing charges for shooting two correctional officers at the Fresno County jail. (KFSN)

An unusual sighting showed a strong stance in the case of Thong Vang, the man facing charges for shooting two correctional officers at the Fresno County jail.

"If they think that's an appropriate way to behave, they will have the full wrath of the Fresno County district attorney's office come down on them," said Fresno County district attorney Lisa Sondergaard Smittcamp, who handled Vang's case herself Thursday.

It's unusual to see Fresno County's district attorney in court. But Smittcamp was there, she handled the Vang case herself, and she sent a loud message.

Toamalama Scanlan is making drastic strides in his recovery from a gunshot wound through the head. Friends on Facebook pages created to support him say he's responding to commands, opening his eyes, and moving some of his fingers.

Fresno County's district attorney met with his family Thursday, but only after delivering a statement by making a rare court appearance and facing down the man accused of shooting Scanlan and Juanita Davila inside the county jail Saturday.

"This is completely unacceptable behavior and we are going to do everything we can to make sure Mr. Vang is prosecuted to the full extent of the law," Smittcamp said.

Vang wore yellow and a blank stare in court. The yellow jumpsuit signifies that the jail now has him house in isolation, away from other inmates for his own safety.

Jail or prison may be where he lives out his life. He's facing 110 years to life if convicted, and ABC30 legal analyst Tony Capozzi says Vang's only defense may be to claim insanity.

"What he did was just so out of the ordinary, so absurd, something that just doesn't make any sense whatsoever," he said. "I would have him examined by a psychiatrist there's no doubt about that."

Vang's entire court appearance lasted about 30 seconds and public defender Roberto Dulce didn't spend much more time than that with Vang, but he saw no signs of mental incompetence.

"As far as I can tell at this point, I have a client who's coherent and patient and calm so not at this point, but I'm not ruling that either," Dulce said of an insanity defense. "Assuming the allegations are what they are, it's a question of why this happened, not a question of who."

About 15 civilians witnessed the shooting inside the jail, and the public defender's office won't be able to defend Vang if they already represent any of the witnesses, so Dulce delayed the arraignment.

Vang will now enter his plea in a week, on the same day a fundraising barbecue is scheduled at the north annex jail parking lot.

You can also contribute to the officer's by visiting their GoFundMe page here.
Related Topics:
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