Douglas S. Chanthabouly knew right from wrong when he shot Samnang Kok to death in a hallway at Tacoma's Foss High School two years ago, a Pierce County jury decided Wednesday.
Rejecting defense arguments that Chanthabouly was legally insane when he killed 17-year-old Kok, jurors instead convicted him of second-degree murder in the Jan. 3, 2007, shooting that caused pandemonium at the school.
The jury also concluded that Chanthabouly should have known that shooting someone in the face in a hall filled with students and teachers would have adverse impacts on others besides Kok.
That decision exposes Chanthabouly to a possible prison sentence above the standard range of 15 years, three months to 23 years, four months.
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Deputy prosecutors Ed Murphy and Fred Wist said following the verdict that they hadn't decided whether to seek an exceptional sentence for the 20-year-old Chanthabouly. He is to be sentenced May 1.
Chanthabouly showed no emotion when Superior Court Judge Ronald Culpepper read the verdicts about 2:10 p.m. Kok's older brother, Rith, exchanged handshakes with Wist and Murphy after the verdict.
Jurors left the County-City Building in Tacoma without commenting to the attorneys and reporters.
Wist said he thought the jury, which deliberated for three full days and parts of two others, made a just decision that "represented the truth."
Public defender John McNeish said he and colleague John Chin were disappointed with the outcome.
"An appeal will be filed, " McNeish said as he and Chin left the courtroom. "We'll see what the Court of Appeals says."
The defense team contended that Chanthabouly, who has paranoid schizophrenia, was delusional when he shot Kok, mistakenly believing he was a gang member out to get him and his younger brother.
They asked the jury to acquit Chanthabouly by reason of insanity, which would have resulted in his being committed to Western State Hospital near Lakewood, possibly for life.
Jurors rejected that argument, agreeing with Murphy and Wist that Chanthabouly knew it was wrong to shoot Kok.
State psychologist Julie Gallagher, who examined Chanthabouly at the request of prosecutors, testified during the trial that Chanthabouly probably was delusional when he shot Kok.
But Gallagher also said Chanthabouly took many steps before and after the shooting that indicated he knew it was wrong. That included lying to detectives after his arrest and at one point telling the psychologist that he knew shooting someone was against the law, Gallagher testified.
Psychiatrist Paul Leung, who examined Chanthabouly at the request of the defense team, testified that Chanthabouly couldn't tell right from wrong at the moment he killed Kok. He said on cross-examination that the defendant showed signs of guilt after the shooting, including fleeing the scene.
Wist and Murphy originally charged Chanthabouly with first-degree murder and argued during trial that he premeditated a plan to kill Kok. Jurors couldn't come to a unanimous agreement on that charge and convicted him of the lesser offense of second-degree murder.
Chanthabouly faced more than 30 years in prison if convicted of first-degree murder.
Detectives never determined a motive for the shooting, though prosecutors presented evidence during his two-week trial that Chanthabouly might have harbored animosity toward someone named Sam.
That evidence came in the form of a class assignment in which Chanthabouly wrote about a "sludge face named Sam" who was "going to live in dirt forever."