HOUSTON (TCD) -- A 65-year-old man was sentenced to 40 years in prison last week after he pleaded guilty to killing his wife with a nail gun in 2022 while they were in the process of getting a divorce.
Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg announced in a statement that a judge handed Lam Ngoc Tran the sentence following a pre-sentence investigation. Tran previously pleaded guilty to murder in the death his 49-year-old wife, My Thai Dang, by beating her with a nail gun.
According to the criminal complaint, on Jan. 10, 2022, at 7:16 a.m., the Harris County Precinct 4 Constable’s Office received a call from an unknown male who "had slurred speech, was moaning, difficult to understand, and could not articulate the reason for the call."
Deputies, firefighters, and paramedics went to the caller’s home on Peralta Springs Lane and knocked, but no one answered. Officials found an open window, made entry, and found Tran in the living room with injuries to his head and wrist.
The District Attorney’s Office said Tran was transported via LifeFlight to Memorial Hermann Hospital for treatment.
As deputies searched the rest of the home, they located Dang in the master bedroom with "major injuries." Medics declared her deceased at 7:30 a.m. She had suffered major injuries all over her body, including blunt force trauma to the head and face, a fractured elbow, contused brain, and more.
While searching the home, deputies found a knife drawer that had been pulled off its tracks and several knives not far from Tran’s body.
Tran’s stepson told detectives Dang filed for divorce in August 2020, and she and Tran were supposed to have court hearing Jan. 11 due to a temporary restraining order Dang filed against her estranged husband.
Around the time of the killing, Tran sent his children "goodbye" text messages, saying he was "going somewhere, they wouldn’t be able to contact him, that if they needed anything to contact their uncle."
According to the District Attorney’s Office, Dang emigrated to the United States from Vietnam. She lived in Minnesota, then moved to Houston to marry Tran. The two worked at the same manufacturing plant that made HVAC equipment.
Assistant District Attorney Matthew Magill said in the statement, "They had been married six or seven years and things had escalated into a cycle of domestic violence. They were scheduled for a hearing for a protective order the very next day, and his response was that if he couldn’t be with her, no one would."
Ogg added, "This is a horrible murder, and it reinforces that the most dangerous time for a battered spouse is when they are trying to leave the relationship. This woman was trying to get away from an abusive husband, and the only reason she is dead is because he could not stand to lose control of her."