Kevin Harter and John Brewer, St. Paul Pioneer Press, Sept. 17
HAYWARD, Wis. — Ten months after an angry confrontation at a northwestern Wisconsin deer stand erupted in gunfire, leaving six hunters dead, two wounded and an entire community in pain, nine guilty verdicts against Chai Soua Vang brought a sense of relief to families of the victims.
The jury of eight women and four men deliberated 3½ hours before returning the guilty verdicts — six for first-degree murder and three for first-degree attempted murder.
The convictions call for a mandatory sentence of life in prison. Sawyer County Circuit Judge Norman Yackel will hand down the sentence at a later date.
Chai Soua Vang’s family had a different reaction as they questioned the racial makeup of the all-white jury and said its deliberations were too brief, preventing a full consideration of the defense’s case.
“In less than four hours, my brother’s life was taken from us,” said sister Chou Vang, referring to the time it took the jury to reach its verdict.
“That’s not fair to us. People of the jury do not know how we feel. Every single one of them was white.”
Chai Soua Vang’s wife, Deu Khang, spoke harshly of the hunters her husband killed.
“I am glad that Chai has the experience to defend himself from these evil people,” she said. “They deserve it.”
Chai Soua Vang’s mother was the last to speak.
She talked in Hmong, raising her voice and pointing to the sky. A family member said that she felt the question about who shot at who first on Nov. 21 was never answered, and she would pray that God would render justice.
All the hunters were unarmed except for Terry Willers, who was disabled when wounded. Hesebeck testified he later grabbed Willers’ rifle and fired one shot at Chai Soua Vang, missing.