With retrial planned, sentences for others in Muldoon shooting that killed 2

Casey Grove

Seated side-by-side in an Anchorage courtroom , two men from separate sides in a fatal 2011 Muldoon shootout received sentences from a judge Wednesday. Both men have already been in jail long enough to satisfy those sentences.

The gunfight outside JJ's Lounge killed Emilio Ramirez, 35, and Ka Meng Chang, 28.

In March, a jury acquitted Ryan Laulu, 33, of murder charges in Ka Meng Chang's death, agreeing with his lawyer's theory that Laulu shot in self-defense. The jury convicted Laulu of evidence tampering and being a felon in possession of a weapon.

The jury also convicted Vang Chang, 31, of assault and evidence tampering in the case but could not reach a decision on murder charges against his cousin, Lee Chee Chang, 28, in Ramirez's death.

Deputy District Attorney Clint Campion said prosecutors plan to retry Lee Chee Chang, who remains under indictment for murder.

In court Wednesday, about 15 members of the Chang family wore white T-shirts with Ka Meng Chang's picture and the words "Always Remember" on them.

Laulu's lawyer, Marcelle McDannel asked for leniency and said her client should not be punished more severely than usual because of the loss of life in his case.

"Tragically, unfortunately, this came down to, 'Your life or mine,' in this situation," McDannel said.

Ramirez had given Laulu the gun, and Laulu only had it for a few minutes after the shooting, McDannel said. He ditched it away from the scene because there were others there who still posed a threat, she said.

Campion argued that Laulu had been offered money to either help Ramirez fight the Changs or to "stand there" as a deterrent.

"He had ample opportunity to walk away from that fight and chose not to," Campion said.

Laulu, in orange jail clothes, apologized to the Chang family and to Vang Chang, seated next to him in a striped shirt. Laulu appeared to get choked up with emotion.

"I just hope you can find it in your heart to forgive me," Laulu said. "I'm sorry. I'm sorry. Every day, I live with it."

Before handing down a sentence that would not give either man more time behind bars, Judge Michael Wolverton said he felt sorry for both families involved.

"It's just overwhelming sadness for the families. They didn't do anything to deserve this," Wolverton said. "All this tragedy happened for what? Nothing."

Wolverton sentenced Laulu, who has been in jail since about the time of the shooting, to three years with no time suspended and Vang Chang to 36 months with 27 suspended. Chang had already served his active time in jail, his lawyer said.

McDannel said Laulu is expected to remain behind bars for federal probation violations related to the 2011 shooting.

A date is not yet set for the murder trial of Lee Chee Chang.

Reach Casey Grove at casey.grove@adn.com or 257-4343. Twitter updates: twitter.com/kcgrove.