ST. LOUIS—A 20-year-old St. Louis man convicted in the “knockout game” murder of a Vietnamese immigrant was sentenced to life in prison on Thursday.
According to the St. Louis Circuit Attorney’s office, Elex Murphy was given life in prison plus 25 years.
Murphy was convicted April 10 of second-degree murder, first-degree assault and armed criminal action in the April 2011 death of 72-year-old Hoang Nguyen.
The jury initially rejected the prosecution’s request for a first-degree murder verdict.
Nguyen was walking home from the store with his wife when he was attacked by four teenagers. Three other people were reported to be with Murphy that day, but no one else was charged in the case.
In the knockout game, people are picked at random and beaten. The attacks are sometimes captured on cell phone video, and some have been posted on social media sites.
The defense argued that no physical evidence linked Murphy to the crime, and that another man’s DNA was found in blood on glasses that had been knocked off the victim’s wife, Yen Nguyen, during the attack.
Prosecutors said Murphy broke away from the group, grabbed Nguyen’s shirt, and punched him so hard he fell to the ground. Murphy then hit Hoang Nguyen in the eye, knocking the glasses off his face.
Yen Nguyen, 62, identified Murphy to police and in court. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported that she told the court Thursday, through a translator, about the impact the attack has had on her life, saying she is left to feel “very lonely.”
“When we came here, we came here as a couple,” Nguyen said.
Since the trial last month, Nguyen has gained her American citizenship. She wore an American flag pin on the lapel of her blazer.
“My family is destroyed,” Nguyen said in court. “But I believe this country is a country of freedom. Even though I am very lonely I will try to live, I will try to work hard.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.