Crime - Sacto 911

Pot house murders may be linked to crimes against Asian Americans in south Sac, police say

A deadly confrontation outside a suspected marijuana grow house in south Sacramento early Sunday was one of three violent incidents at pot houses in the area within a two-day period, police said.

Sean Huang, 46, faces an open count of murder in the shotgun killing of Ahjanique Hodges, 18, on 68th Street near Lemon Hill Avenue. The bodies of Hodges and Glen Myers, 18, were found lying in the street around 4 a.m. Sunday.

Police said the victims were suspected of trying to rob the alleged pot house when they were met outside by Huang.

Huang was arrested later Sunday at a local hospital where he was being treated for an injury that authorities believe he sustained at the shooting scene. Sacramento County prosecutors have not yet filed charges related to Myers’ death.

Huang, 46, faced Sacramento Superior Court Judge Michael Sweet on Tuesday in a hearing that was postponed because the defendant, who speaks Cantonese, did not understand the proceedings. Huang returned Wednesday, saying through an interpreter that he planned to hire private counsel.

Hodges’ parents, Cory Hodges and Aisha Cleveland, along with family and friends, filled the rows of the gallery for Wednesday’s brief hearing. Outside the courtroom, they talked about the pain of losing Ahjanique.

“It hurts deeply. Life is too short,” Hodges said. “My daughter didn’t deserve it.”

They also took issue with police saying their daughter was a home-invasion burglar and shed light on her connection with Myers.

“To say that she was involved in a home invasion, that was a shock to us,” Cleveland said. “It doesn’t seem real to us.”

Her parents said they had not yet met Myers, whom Ahjanique had started dating only days before the early morning shooting.

“I don’t think she was a part of it. She was in the wrong place at the wrong time with the wrong people,” Cory Hodges said. “I know she’s not that type of person. I just wish that it never happened.”

Officer Matthew McPhail, a Sacramento police spokesman, said roughly 700 marijuana plants were found inside the home on 68th Street. He said “every room in the house was modified and set up for the purpose of growing marijuana.”

Huang’s connection to the home was not yet clear, McPhail said.

Firearms were used in two other robberies of suspected pot houses in the area Monday, according to police.

Just after 1 a.m. on Monday, gunshots were reported on the 6200 block of 33rd Avenue, less than a mile from the homicide scene on 68th Street. Officers discovered that a home had been damaged by gunfire and found “500 marijuana plants in various stages of growth,” McPhail said.

No one was injured in that shooting.

Then, at around 5 p.m. Monday, the residents of a home on the 2800 block of 38th Avenue reported a home-invasion robbery. The victims said they had been held at gunpoint and assaulted, police said.

Officers on the scene did not find marijuana plants in the house, but detected “a notable odor of marijuana inside the home,” McPhail said. “Based upon what our officers observed, we believe there was likely a marijuana grow there in the very immediate past prior to our arrival.”

McPhail said incidents at marijuana grow houses can increase this time of year, when indoor crops are harvested and sold. He said there have been five robberies of pot houses this month in the city.

“What we’re really concerned about is the potential for other innocent people to be harmed in an event like (a grow-house burglary),” he said.

Beyond the presence of marijuana crops, the three houses targeted this week had something else in common. All the homes were being used by Asian Americans. A surge in street robberies targeting Asian Americans in south Sacramento began last fall, sparking widespread community concern.

Most of those robberies involved victims being confronted in front of their homes or in their driveways. At the peak of that crime trend, police were investigating 15 robberies of Asian residents a month.

“It’s possible the people conducting those street robberies or driveway robberies may also be engaged in some of these home invasions,” McPhail said.

Darrell Smith: 916-321-1040, @dvaughnsmith

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