Couple sentenced in death of budding filmmaker in Pacific Palisades

Marguerite Vuong, who pleaded no contest to leaving the scene of an accident that killed a federal judge's son in Pacific Palisades, sits in court before her sentencing Friday.
(Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times)

A wife and husband were sentenced Friday in connection with the hit-and-run death of an aspiring filmmaker who was struck while walking home in Pacific Palisades from a party.

Marguerite Vuong, 67, a 28-year postal employee who was driving to her 3 a.m. shift as a sorter when the collision occurred, was sentenced to three years in prison. Her husband, Michael, also 67, was sentenced to a year in county jail and received three years’ probation.

During the sentencing, Dean D. Pregerson, a judge in the U.S. Central District, spoke about the pain of losing his 23-year-old son, David Pregerson.

“You never get over the loss of a child,” he told the couple. “Every day is just pain management.”


Calling the couple “monsters,” he said his son was “annihilated by a 3-ton vehicle” and left behind “like road kill.”

“How can someone leave a mortally wounded child on a dark road in the middle of the night? ... What level of depravity is there?” he asked the couple.

Marguerite Vuong pleaded no contest to hit-and-run in the 2013 death of the younger Pregerson.

Michael Vuong pleaded no contest to being an accessory after the fact for initially telling police that he had been driving the car.


“The crime of hit and run: it’s not the hitting that’s the crime, it’s the running that’s the crime,” Deputy Dist. Atty. Marna Miller said.

The couple’s oldest son, Andrew, said David Pregerson’s death has deeply affected him.

“I would ask [the Pregersons] for their forgiveness,” he said.

During an investigation leading to their arrest, the Vuongs failed to respond to an impassioned promise of compassion from the victim’s prominent family.


David Pregerson, a budding film director, was also the grandson of Harry Pregerson, who sits on the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.

Surveillance videos from homeowners in the residential area where the collision took place helped lead police to identify Marguerite Vuong as the driver.

The Vuongs’ attorneys had asked Superior Court Judge Kathryn Solorzano to sentence the pair to probation without time behind bars. The district attorney’s office had asked for three years in prison for Marguerite and 16 months in jail for Michael.

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