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Wisconsin Teen Gets Life for Killing Hmong Youth

Thursday June 29 4:03 PM ET

GREEN BAY, Wis. (Reuters) - A Wisconsin teenager was sentenced to life in prison with no chance of parole on Thursday for dropping a 13-year-old immigrant youth from the Hmong ethnic group to his death from the fifth floor of a building.

Omer Ninham, 16, had been found guilty by a jury of first degree intentional homicide and physical abuse of a child during a trial jury earlier this year.

In September of 1998 he and a companion chased Zong Vang, 13, up a hospital parking deck ramp, beat him and swung him by his heels over the edge of the structure. As the youngster begged for his life they let go, dropping the boy to his death, prosecutors alleged.

Vang was part of a large immigrant family from Laos who like other Hmong have settled in communities across the upper U.S. Midwest. He had been on a grocery shopping errand when he was attacked.

Defense lawyers had argued that Ninham and his companion, Richard Crapeau, now 15, were showing off for friends and did not mean to drop Vang. Judge J. D. McCay of the Brown County Circuit Court, who sentenced Ninham on Thursday, earlier had sentenced Crapeau to life but with the possibility of parole after 50 years.