FULLERTON, Calif. (CNS) -- A 55-year-old man pleaded guilty this week and was immediately sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole for fatally stabbing a semi-retired Cal State Fullerton administrator in 2019.
Chuyen Van Vo pleaded guilty to murder and grand theft by embezzlement and admitted sentencing enhancements for the personal use of a deadly weapon and murder by means of lying in wait. A special circumstance allegation of murder for financial gain was dismissed.
Vo killed 57-year-old Steven Shek Keung Chan of Hacienda Heights in a parking lot of the university about 8:30 a.m. Aug. 19, 2019.
The motive behind the crime was that Vo had embezzled $206,000 from the university by filing fake invoices for a tutoring company and pocketing the money, according to testimony provided at a preliminary hearing. He was afraid that Chan was about to uncover the scheme.
Vo's attorney, Ed Welbourn, said his client wanted to spare his family and Chan's family a trial.
The video in the player above is ABC7's 2019 report on the arrest of Chuyen Vo.
"He wanted to spare the victim's family and his family the pain and continued suffering of this incident, including a trial," Welbourn told City News Service. "He felt he knew what he did and wanted to confess to it. He feels very badly about what he did and wanted to put an end to the family's suffering."
A construction worker in the parking lot at 2600 Nutwood Ave. heard a loud commotion behind him while talking to his boss on the phone the morning of the killing. He saw the victim and defendant face to face, with the suspect appearing to repeatedly punch the victim, police testified.
Vo shoved Chan back into his Infiniti and ran away as the construction worker confronted him, police said.
Police found the defendant's backpack at the crime scene. It contained zip ties, an incendiary device, a wig, gloves, a watch, a handwritten note, sun shade and knife, police said. The note was written on a paper that contained a phone number leading to the defendant's tax preparation business in Westminster, police said.
Chan had retired but he was brought back part-time to investigate irregularities in invoicing at the university and the staff was closing in on Vo's scam, police testified. Chan had previously been Vo's supervisor in the same office for international student admissions.