A Vietnamese man convicted of aggravated kidnapping was denied parole Friday and told he would serve more than his five-year sentence if it had been up to the Utah Board of Pardons.
"I find it lamentable that we cannot keep you longer than five years," said board member Victoria Palacios, who told the prisoner she was appalled at a plea bargain he received that got him off the hook for other serious crimes.The inmate originally was charged with aggravated robbery, aggravated burglary, theft and aggravated kidnapping in connection with the 1987 abduction of a woman and her 2-year-old child.
Thanh Tan Tran, 26, will serve his entire five-year sentence and be released on Feb. 7, 1992.
"That's as long as we can keep you," said board member Paul Boyden.
Tran was one of four Vietnamese men convicted for their part in a February 1987 robbery and kidnapping.
"It's a horrible crime," said Webster. "The victims left the country because of it."
Bandits robbed a Chinese restaurant owner and ransacked his home. The owner's wife and baby were then kidnapped and he was told that if he called police, they would kill his family.
The woman and child were taken to a west-side motel where they were held at gunpoint. The kidnappers demanded she go to her downtown bank as soon as it opened, withdraw all her money and retrieve her jewelry from the safe deposit box. They told her they would kill the baby if she failed to withdraw the money and turn it over.
Police detectives near the downtown bank spotted the victims in two cars and placed the suspects in custody.
Tran, speaking through an interpreter, told the board he was at the motel where the woman and child were, but he did not know they had been kidnapped and were being held. He also denied having seen any guns that evening or the following morning when the arrests were made.
Boyden said he found it difficult to believe he could be in the same motel room where people were being terrorized and not know what was happening. "I simply don't believe you," he said.
Board member Gary Webster asked Tran why those who investigated the crime believed he was the one who planned the entire incident. Tran said he did not plan the crimes, but was blamed because he was the oldest one of the group.
Tran told the board that while he had done nothing, he still felt guilty for what happened and sorry for the victims. He said he associated with "bad friends."
Tran also told the board his parents had become very sick because of what had happened. He pleaded for parole to give him a chance "to become a good man and to see his mother one last time."