Mongolian girl’s murder trial begins in California

The trial of former Oakland High School student Quochuy "Tony" Tran for the murder of Ichinkhorloo "Iko" Bayarsaikhan is being held in Oakland, California. The 15-year-old girl, who had moved to the U.S. from Mongolia three years earlier, had no idea that Halloween night in 2007 "would be her last day on earth," a prosecutor told jurors Thursday.

Deputy District Attorney Tim Wellman charged Tran, who was 16 at the time and is now 19, with "robbing Iko of her life”, bringing it "to a brutal and abrupt end" by shooting her during an attempted robbery at a park at about 10 p.m. on October 31, 2007.

Wellman said Iko and a group of nine friends were hanging out in the park when they were approached by Tan and a group of five of his friends. Iko"s brother was among her group and he was celebrating his 17th birthday that evening by drinking alcohol in the park, Wellman said.

One of Tran"s friends was carrying a .22-caliber rifle, which he had brandished when he got into a verbal confrontation with some girls prior to the encounter with Iko"s group of friends. That friend then gave the rifle to another member of their group who fired four warning shots into the air during the attempt to rob Iko and her friends, Wellman said.

But he said some of Iko"s friends thought that the gun wasn"t real because it didn"t make a loud sound, so they walked toward Tran and his friends. Wellman said Tran then grabbed the gun and fired a single shot that killed Iko who, he said, was "a defenseless victim" who posed no threat to him because her back was turned to him.

Iko screamed and fell to the ground after she was shot, he said. The bullet entered her back, went through her left lung and ripped through her heart, according to Wellman. She was pronounced dead at hospital around 11 p.m.

The murder weapon was never found, but five bullet casings were found that are consistent with the prosecution"s theory that Tran"s friend fired four shots into the air and Tran fired the shot that killed Iko, Wellman said. Tran and five of his friends were arrested after the shooting and they all were charged with murder in connection with the shooting because Iko"s death occurred during an attempted robbery, Wellman said.

The other five defendants were convicted of murder in juvenile court. Tran is the only one being prosecuted as an adult.

Iko"s mother, Uranchimeg Khishigdorj, cried during portions of Wellman"s opening statement. Other family members and friends of Iko also were present, as were several of Tran"s family members.
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