Cedar Rapids, Iowa News, Sports, and Weather
CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa - Tracy Moses said in a victim's impact statement Tuesday she knows what happened to her family in 2012 was a "crime of hate" because she saw it in the shooter's eyes.
The night Joseph Pham took a gun and fired multiple shots into her home changed her family's lives forever, Tracy Moses said in her statement read by B.J. Franklin, director of Horizons Survivors Program, during Pham's sentencing. Their life went from normal activities and routines to "tragedy, fear and terror."
She said she would never forget feeling helpless that night, dropping to her knees when hearing the gunshots and crawling to check on her children, ages 5 and 7. She knows Jayde Wilson won't forget seeing her father Brian Wilson, 41, shot and seriously injured. They have spent the last 19 months trying to rebuild their home and family.
Pham, 44, pleaded guilty in January to amended charges of intimidation with a dangerous weapon, a felony, and reckless use of a firearm, an aggravated misdemeanor. He was sentenced Tuesday to up to seven years in prison. He will have to serve a mandatory minimum of five years before being eligible for parole.
Pham was originally charged with three counts of attempted murder and one count of intimidation with a dangerous weapon but a mental evaluation conducted by a state's expert found Pham with diminished capacity and those charges were dismissed Tuesday in accordance with the plea agreement.
Pham at the plea hearing admitted to shooting multiple times at his neighbor's home. Brian Wilson, his daughter Jayde Wilson and Tracy Moses and her two children were inside the home at the time of the incident and Brian Wilson was hit three times.
Assistant Linn County Attorney Nic Scott said after the pleading according to case law, if someone is found with diminished capacity the state cannot charge the person with a "specific intent" crime, such as attempted murder, because they are incapable of intending to cause a death.
Tracy Moses and Brian Wilson were angry and upset in their statements regarding the plea deal and Pham's mental evaluation.
Brian Wilson said in his statement also read by Franklin that "no doctor can convince" him that Pham didn't know what he was doing that night. He said Pham told him he was going to kill him.
"I will never forgive you for this mess you've made," Brian Wilson said in his statement. "My teenager saw you shoot me in my front yard. You have forever altered these children's lives."
Brian Wilson said his family was "trashed" in the media as Pham turned this into a racial issue, which isn't true.
Wilson was referring to some of Pham's family members who talked to media after he was arrested. They claimed Pham and his family had been subjected to racial harassment for being Vietnamese for years by Tracy Moses' ex-husband when he lived in the home, and then by Brian Wilson.
Brian Wilson said he couldn't believe after a stupid argument, Pham decided to shoot at his family. He spent eight days in a chemically induced coma after suffering injuries to his spine, a portion of his liver and intestine. He also spent 20 days in the hospital for different surgeries treatment. He also missed 10 months of work and several thousand dollars in salary because of his injuries.
According to police reports, there were several complaints made by both neighbors for loud music, rude gestures, broken windows, a battered mailbox, feces thrown.
Jon Hammond, Pham's attorney, said Pham was diagnosed with diminished capacity and post traumatic stress disorder stemming from years of being abused by his former neighbor, Jaime Moses. Pham also made complaints about him and filed a lawsuit against him.
Pham had no previous criminal history and before this incident he had been the victim. Pham had become paranoid and wasn't rationale.
"He's (Pham) very sorry for the suffering described today," Hammond said.
Pham declined to speak before being sentenced.
Sixth Judicial District Judge Mitchell Turner said he was sentencing Pham to the longest time possible for the charges.
"You shot into a house with a 5- and 7-year old.... I couldn't imagine a worse decision you could have made that night," Turner said.