Crime - Sacto 911

Death penalty won’t be sought in 2016 south Sacramento triple homicide

Photo illustration
Photo illustration

Prosecutors will not seek the death penalty for the alleged triggermen in a bloody home-invasion robbery in south Sacramento that left a father and his two sons dead last April.

Elijah Johnson and David Nguyen will face a July 14 preliminary hearing in Sacramento Superior Court in the April 28, 2016, robbery and shooting deaths of Thanh Le, 56, and sons, Dong Le, 32, and Tien Le, 21, at the family’s home on Ardith Drive, a Sacramento judge ordered Friday.

The pair, who prosecutors allege were part of a four-person team that included Amanda Tucker, 19, and Tayler Renee Coately, 17, are accused of sacking the suburban split-level in the 8700 block of Ardith Drive near Elk Grove-Florin Road before killing the three men inside.

Johnson, 22, and Nguyen, 24, face three counts of murder along with robbery and attempted robbery charges and special circumstances in the killings. After their appearances, prosecuting Sacramento County Deputy District Attorney Jeff Hightower said district attorney’s prosecutors will seek life sentences without parole for the alleged gunmen.

Johnson’s attorney, Olaf Hedberg, said he is looking forward to the July preliminary hearing.

“There’s a lot of discovery in this case, and we expect to contest these charges vigorously,” Hedberg said.

Earlier Friday, the two young women – who prosecutors say drove the armed Johnson and Nguyen to the Le home and acted as lookouts during the robbery and deadly shootings – each agreed to seven-year state prison terms ahead of a scheduled Oct. 13 sentencing date for the two. Both pleaded no contest to single counts of robbery in connection with the April 2016 incident.

Coatley wore a juvenile inmate’s solid green uniform in the courtroom’s holding cell, signing the documents that made her plea agreement official. Hightower said the teen, 17 at the time of the shootings, acted as a lookout for the two armed men inside the Le’s home and briefly had items allegedly taken from the home.

Coately entered her plea and admitted home invasion and firearm enhancements that added up to the seven-year term. District attorney’s officials in May 2016 had decided to prosecute the teenage Coately as an adult in the case.

Tucker, now 19, was the wheel woman, Hightower told the judge, driving Johnson and Nguyen to Ardith Drive, then away from neighborhood after the shooting.

Tucker also pleaded to the robbery charge and admitted to the enhancements as part of her plea agreement.

Darrell Smith: 916-321-1040, @dvaughnsmith