MOBILE, Ala. – A jury recommended a death sentence Friday for a man convicted of killing four children by tossing them from an 80-foot-high Alabama coastal bridge.
The jury deliberated about an hour Friday before recommending that 38-year-old Lam Luong be executed. The Vietnamese refugee was convicted Thursday of murdering the children. The jury also had the option of recommending life without parole for the deaths of the children, who were tossed off a Gulf coast bridge in January 2008.
The judge handling the trial is not bound by the jury's decision.
Authorities said three of the children were the man's with his common-law wife. One other was his wife's child with another man. The children ranged in ages from 4 months to 3 years.
Luong, who emigrated from Vietnam at 14, presented no defense witnesses at his trial this week in Mobile.
A jury needed just 40 minutes to convict him of five counts of capital murder, one for each child and one extra because the case involves multiple victims. Capital murder is Alabama's only charge that carries a potential death sentence.
A part-time shrimper, Luong acknowledged killing the children in one statement while in custody, according to authorities. But officials said he later recanted to police, reverting to his initial story that an Asian woman named Kim had taken the children.
He had entered a guilty plea at a hearing before the trial and said he wanted to die, but later retracted that plea.
The dead were identified as Hannah Luong, 2; Ryan Phan, 3; Lindsey Luong, 1; and Danny Luong, 4 months. Their four tiny bodies were recovered from waters off the Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana coasts last year after a wide search involving hundreds of volunteers using boats and aircraft or scouring the shoreline on foot.