SAN ANTONIO – Just as a murder trial was getting underway Monday, the defendant unexpectedly pleaded guilty in front of the jury.
Kiet Nguyen was charged in the July 5, 2021, deadly shooting of his brother-in-law, Ryan Vo, outside a North Side nail salon.
Nguyen’s guilty plea was not expected as it happened right before lawyers were to deliver opening statements in the trial.
226th District Court Judge Velia Meza ordered the jury out of the courtroom and made sure that Nguyen understood what he was doing by pleading guilty.
After the jurors came back, they were give the jury verdict form to fill out for the punishment phase of the trial to begin.
The state is still presenting all evidence and witnesses to the jury in the punishment phase. During opening arguments, they asked the panel to consider a life sentence.
The defense argued that Nguyen had no intent to kill Vo, 46, but to only cause serious bodily injury. They asked the jury to consider sudden passion, which would lessen the punishment range to two to 20 years in prison.
As testimony in the punishment phase began, the state played surveillance video of the shooting.
The video clearly showed Vo and Nguyen having an argument in the back of the nail salon. As the argument goes on, Nguyen suddenly takes a gun out of his pocket and fires six shots at Vo at close range. After Vo falls over, Nguyen can be seen yelling at him, when a woman alleged to be his sister walks out. Nguyen is seen yelling at her before leaving the scene.
Several witnesses saw the shooting take place as it happened right after the lunch hour in a busy area off Blanco Road.
Nguyen was arrested and charged hours after the shooting.
The jury will be deliberating punishment later this week.
Nguyen is facing 5 to 99 years or life in prison.