Chai Vang's Lawyers Hold Press Conference in Hunter Slaying Case

There's not much print coverage yet of the press conference held this afternoon by lawyers for Chai Soua Vang, the 36 year old Hmung man from Minnesota being held in the shooting deaths of six hunters. The only news article I've seen so far is this one which doesn't mention the lawyers statements, only that of Mr. Vang's daughter who stated she was shocked that her father would be involved in such an incident.

I watched the conference live and commented on it for Fox News today. Here's a recap: Mr. Vang has three retained lawyers. A fourth lawyer, representing leaders of the Hmong community, was also present. All provided information on different aspects of the case.

The lead lawyer, Steven Kohn, began by acknowledging the tragedy and the families, friends and community of those killed. He said he did not want to shift the focus of attention from them. He would not be trying the case in the media but in the courtroom. The press inquiries have become so numerous, they figured the best way to respond was by press conference.

The lawyers were retained Wednesday afternoon and spent Thanksgiving with Mr. Vang. Under Wisonsin law, they are not entitled to the police reports until after the preliminary hearing. They described the procedures. Vang will be advised of the charges tomorrow morning in the basement of the Sheriff's building--not in court. A preliminary hearing may be set. Bail can be addressed. They may or may not ask for bail reduction and may or may not waive the prelim.

The only hint at a defense strategy was this: The case is not a "who-done-it" but a "why-done it." Vang did the shootings. As to why, there may be a factual defense (as in self-defense, I'm assuming) or a legal defense related to mental responsibility. It sounds like the Hmong culture may be an issue in the case. The lawyers referred to those who died as "participants" in the incident--not as victims.

The lawyers don't know yet if they will move to change venue. They promised to defend the case with dignity and professionalism. They said they have been treated fairly so far and expect Mr. Vang to get a fair trial.

The lawyer for the Hmong community leaders said that Mr. Vang was a very respected and admired man in their community. They don't know what happened but they are grieving too. And they don't want to alienate the hunting community for which they have nothing but respect.

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