San Diego

Teen Appeared ‘Zombie-Like' Hours After Allegedly Killing Father

A witness testified Tuesday that the suspect seemed unaware of his surroundings while he walked a neighborhood hours after allegedly shooting his father.

New information has come to light in the trial of a 15-year-old accused of shooting his father to death in their Scripps Ranch condo last April.

The teen was detained in the early hours of April 30, 2018, after his older brother called 911 to report he had shot his father at their home near the intersection of Scripps Ranch Boulevard and Affinity Court, according to the San Diego Police Department.

The 15-year-old's attorneys will argue that the boy’s father was abusive and that he shot him in self-defense, and his family members are expected to testify about the father's alleged abusive behavior

The victim is 45-year-old Tranh Pham. Pham was found bleeding on the floor of a bedroom in the home and died shortly after. According to the Medical Examiner’s office, he was shot four times from close range.

The teen was arrested about 4 hours later after a witness spotted him along a street just a few miles from the condo.

Witness Bill Feather, an NBC 7 employee, took the stand Tuesday and told prosecutors how he first came across the teen and what led him to call 911.

Feather, a Scripps Ranch resident, said he was listening to his police scanner while eating a meal at a nearby restaurant and heard about the homicide. He dropped by the scene to speak with officers -- some of whom are his personal friends – and learned more about the investigation.

Narrating footage from his vehicle’s dashboard camera, Feather explained how while driving south on Scripps Highland Drive he spotted what looked like a human hand sticking out from the guard rail.

Feather told the court that as an Eagle Scout, he looks for people who may be in need and tries to help them. He circled his car around and pulled up next to what turned out to be a person and asked them if they were OK.

“I said ‘Hello. Are you ok?’ The individual responded by saying ‘I am taking a break, I hurt my ankle,’ which I thought was kind of odd,” he said.

Feather said the person seemed to have the voice of a young man and an Asian accent. Aware of the proximity of where he was and the ongoing homicide investigation, Feather felt there was a chance the person he was speaking with could have been the suspect. He drove about a block north to Scripps Gateway Court, parked his car and called 911.

“I told them I was familiar with the homicide and the active investigation, that I had heard the suspect description and felt that there was a possibility and probability that the suspect was in this location,” Feather said.

While on the phone with police, Feather saw who he thought was the person he had just made contact with walk directly in front of his vehicle northbound toward Scripps Poway Parkway.

He described his demeanor as “zombie like” and said he seemed to be unaware of his own surroundings. He also said the person he saw walking didn’t seem to be injured in any way.

The young man crossed Scripps Poway Parkway and walked into a business center parking lot and Feather followed at a safe distance.

Minutes later, and SDPD officer arrived at the parking lot and eventually took the young man, identified as the suspect, into custody. A handgun was found in his bag, SDPD said.

The teen is being tried for murder as a juvenile. Cases involving minors are usually closed to the public, but his trial is open because of the seriousness of the charges.

The 15-year-old's mother, siblings, grandparents and cousins were all present at a detention hearing last May.

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