Jury Scheduled To Hear Vang Murder Case

A jury could soon decide the fate of a Hmong man on trial in Hayward in the killing of six deer hunters and wounding of two others last fall.

Chai Vang took the witness stand Thursday in Sawyer County Circuit Court and testified he started firing at the hunters after he thought one shot at him and the others were going for more guns. The two survivors of the shootings testified earlier that only one shot was fired at Vang, and that was after he already shot the victims.

Vang says one of the white hunters used profanities and racial slurs when angrily confronting him for trespassing in a tree stand, and he believed another hunter fired a shot at him, causing him to open fire.

The 36-year-old truck driver from St. Paul, Minnesota was cross-examined by Attorney General Peg Lautenschlager, who asked if each victim deserved to die. Vang answered "no" in some cases and "yes" in others.

After he was done and the jury left the courtroom, Vang turned from the defense table to about a dozen members of his family. He spoke to them in his native language and began sobbing, dropped to his knees and bowed several times, his hands folded as if in prayer.