PROSECUTOR: Deputy District Attorney Matt Chisholm, Homicide Unit
The Honorable Gerrit Wood sentenced Souksavanh Phetvongkham to 56 years to life in prison. On February 5, 2019, a jury convicted Phetvongkham of the first-degree murder of Mario Benitez-Gallegos. The jury also found that Phetvongkham personally used a deadly weapon during the murder. An allegation that Phetvongkham suffered a prior strike conviction for aggravated felony assault was determined to be true at the sentencing hearing.
The victim and Souksavanh Phetvongkham had been friends until a recent falling-out. A mutual friend of the two gave a ride to Phetvongkham. During that ride, the two stopped and picked-up the victim. Phetvongkham and the victim agreed to fight and got out of the car. During the fight, Phetvongkham stabbed the victim multiple times, including a stab wound to the heart. The victim was taken to a hospital by his friend, but he died from blood loss.