Man convicted in Sara Hougom death wants to withdraw plea

Pao Choua Vue files post-conviction motion

One of the two men convicted in the death of 20-year-old Sara Hougom filed a post-conviction motion on Monday to withdraw his guilty plea.

On November 5, 2012, a La Crosse County judge sentenced Pao Choua Vue and his nephew Kong Ryit Vue to 35 years in prison on a first-degree reckless homicide charge. They both pleaded guilty to the charge. Kong Vue was also sentenced to 20 years of extended supervision after his release. Pao Choua Vue was also sentenced to 15 years extended supervision.

Kong Vue told investigators he went into Hougom’s apartment on August 15, 2012, to steal money and shot in Hougom’s direction before running away. Hougom died a short time later at Mayo Clinic Health System in La Crosse. Before Pao Choua Vue was arrested, “Kong had given a statement to police that implied that Pao, who was driving the car in which Kong was a passenger on March 26, 2012, was aware that when Kong asked Pao to wait for him, Kong intended to use a gun and rob someone,” the motion states.

At the plea hearing on August 15, 2012, Pao Choua Vue denied that he knew what Kong was going to do when Kong left the car, according to the motion.

“Pao believed it was in his best interest to plead to first reckless homicide rather than face the strong likelihood of conviction based on Kong’s testimony and the likelihood of sentences on other charges, as well,” Pao Choua Vue’s new attorney Patricia A. Fitzgerald stated in the motion.

“There is reasonable probability that had Pao gone to trial the state would not have been able to prove that Pao intentionally aided and abetted Kong when set out to intimidate someone to get money,” according to the motion.

A hearing on the motion has not been set yet.