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Man who claimed he ‘blacked out’ during violent spree in San Leandro sentenced to life

OAKLAND — Sophy Kong claimed he “blacked out” during his violent rampage through San Leandro in 2016 that left one person dead and two injured.
A jury didn’t buy it, and on Friday the 36-year-old man who claimed insanity during his trial was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole — the harshest prison sentence possible short of the death penalty.
One of his victims came to court to watch the sentencing — the man who was so badly beaten by Kong the night of June 4, 2016 that law enforcement thought he was already dead when they arrived on scene. He testified during the trial that his life will forever be changed because of those injuries.
Jamila Puttum-Jackson, the widow of  Sukia Jackson, 43, of Foster City, also attended, sitting in the courtroom with other family members. Kong was convicted of killing her husband in an almost “execution-style.”
The couple was married for 18 years and had four children, now ages 20, 18, 15, and 12. Puttum-Jackson wrote in a statement read out loud by prosecutor Danielle Hilton that she was “grief-stricken.”
“To sit in the court day after day in pain, watching Sophy Kong with a blank look on his face is sickening,” she wrote.
She wrote about the difficulty of sending their eldest daughter off to college just one month after her father was killed.
“The void in our hearts will never be mended,” Puttum-Jackson said.
Jackson was shot in the head as he sat on his motorcycle outside of Shooter’s Bar in the 1500 block of 150th Avenue in unincorporated San Leandro on June 4, 2016. Jackson was a San Francisco Muni operator.
Kong was also accused of the attempted murders of two others — the man he badly beat with his gun after chasing him, and another he shot at. The jury convicted him on all counts in September 2018. Shortly after, the same jury also found him sane during the time of the crimes, essentially rejecting his not guilty by reason of insanity plea.
During the trial, Kong took the stand in his own defense, answering questions blankly, and hardly moving when he sat at the witness stand. He claimed he didn’t remember any of the night’s events and said he had been drinking with a friend at his house, and had about three to five beers.
Kong claimed to have a history of mental issues, including hearing voices that threatened to kill his family. He also said people were following him, and that he was scared of the threats the voices made.
“This was a case that was most troubling,” said Alameda County Superior Court Judge Trina Thompson said.
Thompson, who presided over both the criminal trial and sanity phase trial, said the attacks seemed unprovoked. The way he killed Jackson was “extreme” and almost “execution-style,” she said.
“It was quite cold, it was violent,” she said.
The judge also took time to comment on Kong’s mental health illness. She said as a community, “we are not doing a good job” in mental health care. There are gaps institutionally, the judge said.
Kong was sentenced to at least 50 years to life in prison without the possibility of parole. It was the special circumstances charge of “lying in wait” that made him eligible for life without parole. He will also have to pay restitution of more than $27,000 to the victims or their families.

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