Convicted drunken driver sentenced to 10 years

Kong Vang, the man accused in the drunken-driving death of a UW Madison graduate student from China, was sentenced today to 10 years in prison.

Kong Vang, 33, was convicted Nov. 30, 2017 of driving drunk in his SUV and crashing into and killing 22-year old UW grad student Wenxin "Wendy" Huai April 15, 2017 on South Park Street as Huai walked on a sidewalk. 

Vang's blood alcohol level was nearly twice Wisconsin's legal limit for drinking and driving, and there was methamphetamine in his sport utility vehicle.

Dane County Judge John Hyland also ordered five years of supervision.

Hyland also ordered five years of license revocation after Vang's sentence is completed and five years of mandatory use of an interlock device following that.

On the charge of recklessly endangering safety, Vang was given a concurrent sentence of one year, and on a methamphetamine charge, he was given a concurrent sentence of 9 months.

During the sentencing hearing, friends and family of Huai filled an overflow room to watch the proceedings.

Wenxin's mother, still too grief stricken to attend the court hearing, instead wrote a letter that was read by a family friend.

"In April of this year, my only child, Wenxin, was killed on a sidewalk by an irresponsible drunk driver. I will remember that day forever," wrote Huai 's mother.

"Every day I miss my daughter to much and I don't want to leave my home," her mother wrote. "I just lock myself inside."

"Life is completely a mess now," she wrote "Things that my family liked to do in the past can't be done anymore, because in the past we did those things with our daughter. I just couldn't bear it anymore."

Prosecutor Daniel Hess compared Vang's driving drunk to using his vehicle as a two-ton gun.

"And the defendant played Russian roulette with every person he passed," Hess said.

"He loaded the chamber with alcohol and methamphetamine. He spun the cylinder the moment he got behind the wheel and started ingnition," Hess said.

"He pointed it at every person he passed that day and he pulled the trigger with every stop sign, every turn and every stoplight that he went through," Hess said. "And Wenxin was the person that he killed."

Hyland said the court received more than 40 letters about Huai, as well as more than 40 letters in support of Vang, which defense Eric Schulenburg noted. 

Schulenburg also challenged the prosecutions argument that Vang showed now remorse.

In a letter Vang wrote to the court that was read by Schulenburg, Vang said, "I am the one that did this terrible thing and caused this unimaginable pain, and I'm sorry."

Vang had faced a maximum of fifty-five years in prison.

Prior to the sentencing, Vang remained free on his $10,000 bail.

"The community, which Vang is a part, gathered together and posted money,"  Schulenburg said.  "None of them had enough on their own to dot it."

During Vang's trial, supporters of Huai sat quietly in the back of the court, and were unavailable for comment on the convictions, and Vang's continued freedom.  Shortly after Huai's April death, members of the UW-Madison Chinese Student Association and others demonstrated outside the Dane County Public Safety Building, calling for justice for Huai, and serious consequences in deadly drunk driving cases.

For more go to WKOW: http://www.wkow.com/story/37569169/2018/02/22/vang-guilty-in-drunken-driving-death-of-uw-student

Photo: WKOW

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