Witnesses testify to establish motive in Chinnawut Vue trial

Alyssa Flores Image
Wednesday, December 21, 2022
Witnesses testify to establish motive in Chinnawut Vue trial
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Witnesses took the stand Tuesday in the trial of a Fresno man charged with killing his wife in 2016.

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- Witnesses took the stand today in the trial of a Fresno man charged with killing his wife in 2016.

Investigators say Chinnawut Vue stabbed Xia Vang more than 100 times at their northeast Fresno home then slit his own throat before he was arrested in Hume Lake.

Prosecutors have said Chinnawut Vue murdered his wife because he was angry about her alleged extramarital affair.

On Tuesday, defense attorneys called their first witnesses as they aim to convince jurors he snapped after months of turmoil.

Fresno Police officer John Belli Jr. took the stand first. He was at the scene in March 2016 after Vang was stabbed to death. Officer Belli says he interviewed witnesses at the crowded scene that day, including Xia's sister.

"She said that she was seeing another man and that Chinnawut Vue knew about the situation, knew about the affair," said Belli.

Cindy Thao testified next. She lived across the street from the couple and Xia's mother, who lived next door.

Cindy testified that Xia seemed withdrawn when she came to her house before she was killed and asked to use Cindy's phone. Xia's mom came over too and told Cindy that Xia would likely use the phone to call her boyfriend, a Hmong psychologist who she had been seeing for six months.

Ka Vang then took the stand with support from a Hmong interpreter. She's Chinnawut's sister-in-law and was his co-worker at an Asian market the two years leading up to Xia's death. She described how Chinnawut had changed after finding out his wife was allegedly having an affair.

"Depressed, he lost his appetite and he got skinnier," she said.

Ka Vang said several family counseling meetings were held to help the couple through their marital problems with the intention of them remaining married.

"We were talking about...that Xia is having an affair," she said. "And we told her to stop and we told Chinnawut to be patient and they should be back together."

Ka Vang says when the meeting ended, Xia agreed to be faithful and Chinnawut was happy. Prosecutors are now working to prove he went on to murder his wife because he was angry about the affair and didn't want her to leave. The defense is hoping for a lesser charge by showing he was provoked.

Vue could face 26 years to life in prison if he's convicted of first-degree murder. The trial will continue after the holidays on January 4.