Pattaya Daily News

31 July 2008 :: 13:07:39 pm 10759

Jealous Thai Ex-Us Serviceman Sentenced To 10 Years For Pregnant Wife‘S Murder

A jealous 59-year-old Thai ex-USAF sergeant who murdered his pregnant wife in 1994 was sentenced in the US to 10 years by a US military court on July 30,2008. He had escaped back to Thailand following the murder, but was later arrested in Phitsanuloke. He wanted to be tried in Thailand, but a Thai court ruled that as the fugitive committed the crime in the US and being a US citizen, he should be returned to face trial there.
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The former fugitive, Saner Wonggoun, aka Shorty” or “Buck, born in Nakon Nayok Province in 1947, went to live in the US at the age of 21. He joined the US Air Force in the mid-1970s and became a naturalized US citizen in 1978. In August 1981, he married Sopha Yodpet, with whom he had two children.

For a time, the Thai ex-sergeant, was the US Air Force’s number one fugitive, with a US$25,000 (Bt1 million at the time) reward on his head. Wonggoun escaped to his native Thailand after the murder and lived there until he was arrested, working as a street seller. After his arrest in Thailand, Wonggoun insisted being a Thai citizen he should be tried in a Thai court. However, in December 2007 Thailand’s Appeals Court decreed that as the murder occurred in the United States, and Wonggoun is legally a US citizen, he should fall be sent back to the US and stand trial there.

The accused pleaded guilty on Monday, July 28, to voluntary manslaughter at his trial at a military court at the USAF base in Fairfield. Wonggoun admitted killing his wife because he was upset over her gambling debts and because she was pregnant by another man. Sopha Wonggoun and her unborn child were discovered wrapped in a sleeping bag and dumped along a deserted road in California. When the police attempted to contact Wonggoun for questioning, they discovered he had abandoned his two children with a neighbor and bought a one-way ticket to Bangkok.

On November 3, 2006, following a tip-off that Wonggoun was selling charcoal at the Khoke Matoom Market, the Royal Thai Police arrested the fugitive in Phitsanuloke province. After his arrest, Wonggoun allegedly confessed to the murder of his wife, admitting to bludgeoning her to death with a hammer after he discovered she was eight months pregnant by someone else. He realised this because they had not had sexual relations for almost a year. Saner further maintained that his wife was a gambling addict and had wasted a great deal of money gambling. After fleeing the United States in 1994, Saner never withdrew any of his US$81,700 savings, afraid he might be traced, nor was he aware that his son had made frequent trips to Thailand to look for him. Recalling his time as a fugitive, Wonggoun claimed to have attempted suicide several times: “I have been living in misery all along. I have been living on given time. No happiness or anything at all.”

A USAir Force legal spokesman Technical Sgt. Don Osborn stated that, under military law, prosecutors had sought a conviction for unpremeditated murder and instead of the death penalty, he received a 10-year sentence.

Reporter : PDN staff   Photo : Internet   Category : Crime News

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