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A Minnesota truck driver sentenced to life in prison for murdering six deer hunters in northern Wisconsin after a confrontation over trespassing was not a victim of a racially biased court system as he claimed, a state appeals court ruled Tuesday. The 3rd District Court of Appeals rejected Chai Soua Vang's request for a new "minority counsel" to represent him. "Our independent review of the record discloses no improper racial issues with regard to sentencing or otherwise for appeal," the three-judge panel said.

The appeals court upheld Vang's convictions for six counts of first-degree intentional homicide and three counts of attempted first-degree intentional homicide, agreeing with his attorneys that there was no merit to an appeal.

The fatal shootings occurred in November 2004 after a group of deer hunters in Sawyer County confronted Vang, 38, of St. Paul, Minn., over trespassing in a tree stand.

Vang, a Hmong immigrant and experienced hunter, testified during his trial that he shot the six white hunters and wounded two more in self-defense, claiming one of them fired a shot in his direction after they shouted racial epithets and cursed at him.

The two survivors testified that Vang had begun walking away from the confrontation when he turned and opened fire.

Prosecutors convinced a jury that Vang reacted in an angry outburst, feeling disrespected by the hunters, and then tried to kill everyone so there would be no eyewitnesses.

Vang, who came to the United States from Laos more than 20 years ago, was sentenced to six consecutive life terms plus 165 years in prison. He is being in kept in an undisclosed prison outside of Wisconsin, according to the state Department of Corrections.


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