It took a jury just 1 1/2 hours to find 23-year-old Ba Quang Tran guilty of murder, a first-degree felony, for the slaying of an estranged girlfriend.

Tran stood crying and motionless as jury forewoman Anne Kendrick read the unanimous verdict Thursday convicting the Vietnamese immigrant of the Dec. 22, 1996, stabbing and strangulation of 32-year-old Kim Lein Thi Vo.The jury also convicted Tran of violating a protective order Vo had filed just 10 days earlier. Tran, who will be sentenced Nov. 5, likely faces five years to life in prison.

Defense attorney Martin Gravis wasn't surprised by the verdict.

"I think it's pretty hard to get around a strangulation and 24 stab wounds," said Gravis, who will start working on the appeal.

Second District Court Judge Michael Glasmann gave the jury the option of convicting Tran of manslaughter, a second-degree felony, if they concluded that he killed Vo, the mother of his three children, under extreme emotional distress or in self-defense.

Glasmann told jurors they could consider Tran's own testimony - and his friend Hung Trieu's corroboration - that Vo had previously chased him with a knife, hit him on the head with a hammer and threatened to kill him.

In his opening statement Monday, Gravis contended Vo invited Tran to her apartment and attacked him with a knife and he killed her in self-defense. Gravis argued that even if Tran hadn't acted in self-defense, he had been under extreme emotional distress.

But in his closing statement, prosecutor Rich Parmley quoted Tran's statement to police the day of the slaying, saying, " `I killed my wife. She got court papers, so I killed her.' "