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VAN NUYS : Party Crasher Found Guilty of Murder

A 19-year-old party-crasher who fired a 9-millimeter pistol into a crowd while other crashers exhorted him to shoot was convicted of first-degree murder on Monday.

Vu Pham had told the jury he fired the weapon in self defense during a bottle-throwing melee at the crowded party in Canoga Park. But Deputy Dist. Atty. Franco A. Baratta convinced jurors that Pham was firing at another party-goer when 25-year-old Thomas A. Myers stepped into the line of fire.

Pham lowered his head as jurors returned the verdict, reached after two days of deliberations. Van Nuys Superior Court Judge Michael R. Hoff scheduled sentencing for Feb. 24. Pham faces a maximum sentence of 30 years to life in prison.

The July 24, 1993, fracas began when about 20 youths, some of them gang members, attempted to crash a large party at Farralone and Vanowen avenues. One of the party-crashers stopped to urinate against a tree, and became enraged when a female party-goer greeted him with a racial slur.

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He retrieved the weapon from his car and began firing it in the air as another party-goer ordered the youths off the property.

Pham and several other party-crashers began to chant, “Shoot him! Shoot him! Shoot him!” Pham wrestled the gun away and, with the others still chanting, fired a half dozen shots toward the man ordering them to leave, Baratta said.

A bullet struck Myers, an avid surfer and snowboarder from West Hills, in the chest as he stepped through the front door.

In the first row of the courtroom, Myers’ father, mother and grandmother embraced and wept as the verdict was read. “I think justice was served as far as the verdict goes, but it’s not a happy day for me because we still don’t have our son,” said Ralph Myers, the victim’s father. The family has become active in victims rights groups.

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Defense attorney Seymour I. Amster indicated he would appeal.


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