Jim Duc Nguyen sentenced in stabbing deaths of Christopher Manzon, Ador Laus

SAN DIEGO - A man who fatally stabbed two men during a fight outside a Grantville restaurant where a birthday party was taking place was sentenced Friday to 30 years and four months in state prison.

Jim Duc Nguyen, 26, was convicted Oct. 29 of voluntary manslaughter in the death of Christopher Manzon, 25, and involuntary manslaughter in the death of Ador Laus, 23. Manzon died the morning of the June 2, 2012, fight, while Laus died several days later in a hospital.

Nguyen was acquitted of more serious murder charges in the deaths after his defense attorney successfully argued that Manzon and Laus were the aggressors in the alcohol-fueled fight and that his client was only defending himself.

Deputy District Attorney Jim Koerber said a mix of ethnicities -- Filipinos, Vietnamese and others -- were getting along at the party -- inside and in the parking lot of the Saigon Star restaurant -- until the manager, concerned about people drinking alcohol outside, asked that the group come inside with their drinks.

Laus conveyed the message to Nguyen, but the defendant "didn't like that," Koerber told the jury.

Soon after, Nguyen and Manzon fought, and Nguyen stabbed Manzon in the stomach. Laus then ran over to the Nguyen and threw a punch, prompting Nguyen to stab Laus in the side.

Defense attorney Tom Warwick said that before he was stabbed with a pocket knife, the 280-pound Laus hit the 145-pound Nguyen in the head with a beer bottle and punched him.

After the stabbings, a melee erupted in the parking lot, with beer bottles being thrown and people hitting cars with baseball bats as the defendant fled, Koerber said.

Nguyen tried to surrender the next day when he found out police were looking for him but the police station was closed, Warwick said. He was arrested at his home shortly afterward.

Dozens of family and friends packed the courtroom to plead with the judge to give Nguyen the most severe punishment.

Family members wept in court as they described how the senseless fight shattered their lives.

"He was so close to me, he was my confidant, my strength and the light of my life," Maricor Laus said of her son Ador.

She struggled to hold it together as she talked about him, and at one point, she held up a photo.

"For the last time, your honor, we took our family picture, the difference was, my loving son Ador was in a coffin," said Laus.

Nguyen kept his head down, and at one point, he appeared tearful as videos were displayed from both victims' funerals.

Manzon was a father of three, and his baby daughter was born one day after his funeral.

His mother, Marigy Manzon, described the moment doctors told her that her son did not make it.

"He looked me in the eyes and said, 'I did everything I possibly could, but I could not save your son.' Our CJ was gone. We felt as though someone killed us too; we couldn't breathe, we couldn't think," Manzon sobbed as she continued. "All I said was, 'No, he's not gone, it's not true.'"

Nguyen's attorney maintains the attack was self-defense.

The judge said Nguyen showed no remorse, and his criminal past -- which includes drug and attempted burglary charges -- makes him a danger to society.

Someone from the defendant's family tried to apologize for Nguyen's actions, but a younger brother of one of the victims shouted, "Please don't talk to us."

Print this article Back to Top