Teen charged with killing father in Scripps Ranch testifies

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SAN DIEGO — A teenage boy on trial for the shooting death of his father last year at their Scripps Ranch condominium testified Thursday that he was planning to run away from home and use his father’s handgun for protection on the streets, but fired the weapon when his dad approached and reached for the gun.

Testimony is expected to last into next week in the bench trial for the 16-year-old, who is being tried as a juvenile on charges of murdering 46-year-old Thanh Pham on April 29, 2018. He’s also charged with the attempted murders of his mother and brother, who were uninjured.

The boy is accused of shooting his father five times in the master bedroom around 8:35 p.m., then firing through the door of another bedroom in which his mother and brother had barricaded themselves.

Pham was pronounced dead at the scene.

The boy, then 15, fled from the condo on foot before police arrived, but he was arrested about 1 a.m. the following day, roughly two miles from his home, after someone spotted him on Scripps Poway Parkway near the I-15. He  had the handgun in his waistband and dozens of rounds of ammunition in his backpack when taken into custody, according to police.

The defendant testified that his father was very strict in disciplining him, often striking him on the head and kicking him, though not significantly enough to send him to a hospital. He said his father struck him just minutes before the shooting.

The boy testified that he was planning to run away from home that night, though Deputy District Attorney Mary Loeb noted that he did not pack any clothes.

The boy countered that he only planned to run away for one day, saying he would “stay on the streets for the night and protect myself with the firearm,” but was confronted by his father as he was preparing to leave.

When questioned by his attorney, Mary Ellen Attridge, as to why he shot his father, the boy said: “He came at me.”

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