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Mistrial declined; St. Paul jury gets gang rape case

  • Star Tribune
  • December 20, 2012 - 10:35 PM

The jury began deliberating the case against Mang Yang on Thursday after he chose to continue his trial with only 11 jurors, rejecting his right to have a mistrial declared in the kidnapping and gang rape case against him.

The pool was down to 11 because three Ramsey County jurors were excused for various problems. They deliberated for about four hours Thursday and will continue Friday.

In closing statements Thursday, Yang's attorney, Christopher Champagne, said three co-defendants falsely testified against Yang to get a big break in their sentences.

Champagne asked jurors to not "look at this case through the lens of gang culture," but instead consider Yang's actions, which the attorney maintains show he's an innocent man accused of arranging the rape of a 15-year-old by nine gang members and associates.

"This man actually broke up this sexual assault, preventing this young girl from being raped by eight other guys," Champagne said.

In March, Yang, 24, and the others were charged with first-degree criminal sexual conduct, conspiracy, kidnapping and committing a crime for the benefit of a gang in connection with the rape on Nov. 17, 2011.

The prosecution told of a shy girl who was set up after Yang picked up her and two friends from school and drove them to be with gang members and cohorts. Yang bought beer.

"He aided that crime in so many ways," prosecutor Heidi Westby told jurors.

She said Yang told police he wasn't in the gang but knew that the True Blood 22's got girls drunk and raped them. "With that knowledge, he brought this young girl to the party," she said.

The nine conspired to drag the girl from Yang's car into an abandoned house in the 200 block of White Bear Avenue, Westby said.

"She did not have a fighting chance," the prosecutor said. "She was in a bedroom with eight, nine men."

JOY POWELL

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