Larry Oakes, Minneapolis Star Tribune, September 16, 2005
A courtroom full of people sat in stunned silence Thursday as Chai Soua Vang ended his murder trial with the bold declaration that some of the six deer hunters he killed deserved to die because they were disrespectful.
In a cross-examination that may devastate Vang’s claim that he was acting in self-defense, he said landowner Robert Crotteau and his 20-year-old son, Joe, deserved what they got when Vang chased them down and fatally shot each in the back, though Vang acknowledged that neither was armed.
Robert Crotteau deserved to die “because he’s the one who confronted me and called me names and that’s just who he is,” Vang testified, as members of Crotteau’s family appeared tearful and stunned.
Joe Crotteau deserved to die “ ‘cause he accused me of giving him the finger and tried to cut in front of me,” Vang said, after describing how the younger Crotteau blocked him from leaving as his father profanely berated Vang for trespassing on the family’s hunting land.
Vang maintained that he opened fire only after Terry Willers, who owned the property with Robert Crotteau, fired a shot toward Vang as he walked away following what he decribed as profanity-laced, racist tongue-lashing by Crotteau.
Willers and Lauren Hesebeck, the only two members of the group who survived, testified this week that Willers never shot at Vang or even pointed his gun toward him. They said Willers was the only member of the group who was armed. They acknowledged that Robert Crotteau yelled at Vang using the “f-word” and threatened to beat him up if he ever returned, but they said no one called Vang any racist names.
[Editor’s Note: For more on this story, click here.]