Jury acquits couple of murder conspiracy

Posted: Sunday, June 08, 2003

ANCHORAGE (AP) An Anchorage couple was acquitted Friday of charges that they tried to arrange for the murder of a federal judge, a prosecutor and two other people.

Arnold Wesley Flowers, 28, and his girlfriend, 24-year-old Sompong Khamsomphou, each were convicted of two lesser charges of witness tampering.

But the federal jury took less than a day to find them innocent of conspiring to kill U.S. District Judge Russel Holland, assistant U.S. attorney Crandon Randell, a key government witness in a pending bank fraud case and the witness' boyfriend.

They also acquitted the couple of attempting to murder Holland, Randell and the witness, Lisa Chanthaseng.

Federal investigators accused Flowers and Khamsomphou of trying to hire a contract killer in February 2002 to murder the four, all connected to their trial on bank fraud charges. That trial, with a new judge and prosecutor, is set to start Monday.

Defense attorneys in the murder-for-hire trial argued that Flowers' cellmate in jail was working as a government snitch and entrapped them, persuading Flowers to hire an undercover agent posing as a hit man. Flowers testified that he only wanted to threaten Chanthaseng and her boyfriend to tell the truth in the bank fraud case.

During closing arguments, Fleischer argued that Flowers' cellmate had manipulated the situation from the beginning to get a break from prosecutors.

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