Dao Xiong convicted of three counts of murder

Dao Xiong's text message, "You want to kill a guy with me?" is what his defense attorney F. Clayton Tyler believes was a deciding factor in the jury's guilty verdict on first- and second-degree murder charges on Aug. 12.

The 12-person jury announced the verdict in the Washington County District Court trial after deliberating Thursday evening and Friday morning. The jurors started their discussion Thursday afternoon following the attorneys' closing arguments.

"(Xiong) stated, 'You want to kill a guy with me?' and he ultimately did," Tyler said outside the courtroom after the verdict was read.

"It was a very, very difficult case," he said. "Both families unfortunately are going to suffer a great loss."

He said he didn't think the conviction had set in yet for his client. Xiong immediately left the courtroom after the verdict and did not say anything.

The jury found Xiong guilty of first-degree premeditated murder; one count of second-degree murder - with intent; and one count of second-degree murder while committing a felony.

The members of the jury decided their verdict on the second-degree murder charges by the time they finished deliberations at 9 p.m. Thursday. They met again starting at 8:30 a.m. Friday and decided on a unanimous guilty verdict for the first-degree murder charge by 11:45 a.m.

Xiong is sentenced to life in prison without parole.

The crime
In court, the defense didn't dispute the fact that Xiong shot and killed Youa Ty Lor on Sept. 9, 2010, and stole his Nissan 350z sports car. However, Tyler repeatedly said the shooting was accidental and not premeditated.

Lor was 33 and had moved to St. Paul with his wife Katie and four children in August of 2010, about a month before he was killed. Katie Lor was present for the verdict, but the Lor family declined to comment.

Both Tyler and Washington County Prosecutor John Fristik presented their closing arguments to the jury Thursday.

Tyler said his client made a mistake, but Lor's death was not Xiong's intention when he developed the plan to steal the victim's car.

Lor was selling his Nissan 350z on Craigslist last year to raise money to help support his family and eventually start his own auto repair business.

The Lor family moved to Minnesota from Pennsylvania after Youa lost his job as a welder. He lined up a job at his friend's auto repair business in White Bear Lake.

Youa Lor stored his Nissan at the same friend's home in St. Paul and met Dao Xiong there for a test drive on Sept. 9, 2010. Xiong was driving and took Lor to rural Lake Elmo on 55th Street North off Demontreville Trail, near the Green Acres Recreation Area. They got out of the car to investigate a noise Xiong claimed he heard and after close to an hour, Xiong shot Lor in the abdomen and drove away in the Nissan. Dr. Victor Froloff, the Ramsey County Medical Examiner who testified during the trial, said Lor bled to death within minutes of being shot. Several passersby found Lor on the side of the road after Xiong left, including two off-duty Minneapolis police officers, but they were unable to revive him.

In the meantime, Xiong drove the Nissan sports car to the Oakdale home where he lived with his parents, and his friend, Keng Koua Thao, 20 of Maplewood, helped him strip valuable parts from the car. They then abandoned it in Sunfish Lake Park in Lake Elmo.

"It was so damn senseless, and I think that's why it makes it more of a tragedy," Washington County Attorney Pete Orput said after the verdict Friday. "The jury did the right thing," Orput said, describing the killing as "tragic and thoughtless. The sad thing is the tragedy isn't over. We've got a widow and orphans. ... Our hearts go out to the wife and children of Youa Ty Lor for their terrible loss."

Fristik, the lead prosecutor in the case, called Katie Lor as his first witness when the trial began a week ago. She is now living in California with her four children and relatives.

'(Youa) Ty Lor was hoping to get $16,000 for his 350z," Fristik said to the jury during his closing arguments Thursday. "What he got instead was a bullet to the stomach and a dream of opening a car shop totally shattered."

The last time Katie Lor saw her husband was when he went to work the morning of Sept. 9, 2010.

Fristik told the jury Thursday that Youa Lor was feeling "optimistic" after he found a buyer for his car so quickly. Little did he know that this guy who wanted to buy his car was a fraud and a fake and a wolf in sheep's clothing," Fristik said. "He was a killer in waiting."

Fristik also referenced the text message from Xiong to Thao, "You want to kill a guy with me?" which was sent on Sept. 7, 2010.

"This is no joke - less than 48 hours after this text, (Youa) Ty Lor was dead. Unfortunately for (Youa) Ty Lor, (Xiong) was dead serious about this text message," Fristik told the jury.

Xiong used an "untraceable" Tracfone to contact Lor about the car, using an alias of Michael, and had the victim's cell phone as well during the test drive. He told Lor he needed to use it to call the Department of Motor Vehicles about the title of the vehicle.

After shooting Lor and driving away in the victim's car, Xiong threw his Tracfone and Lor's phone out the window. After abandoning the Nissan in Sunfish Lake Park, Xiong threw the keys into the woods.

These were all actions Fristik told the jury Thursday that Xiong used to "cover his tracks.

"Everything about (Xiong's) plan was thought out ahead of time," Fristik said. "It wasn't a plan to rob; it was a plan to kill."

Thao trial is in October
After the verdict, Orput commended the investigators from the Washington County Sheriff's Office and the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Investigation for their sound, quick work to close the case, as well as their partnership with the county attorney's office.

Xiong was arrested on Sept. 10, 2010, at his Oakdale home, and Thao was arrested early in the morning on Sept. 11 at his home in Maplewood.

In first-degree murder cases, there is an automatic appeal, Tyler said. At this time he did not know if he would serve as Xiong's attorney.

Keng Koua Thao is charged with second-degree murder as an accomplice to Xiong. Thao was not with Xiong when Lor was shot. His trial is scheduled for October.

Katy Zillmer can be reached at kzillmer@lillienews.com or at 651-748-7822.

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