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Man convicted of Danbury beating argues for new sentence

At times Kyle Coney cried as he explained to judge the life-altering impact that an assault by Channy Nee Khuth and three others has had on his life.

Coney was among those arguing in a hearing Thursday that Khuth, 16 years into a 30-year sentence for the 2004 Danbury beating that left Coney and Timothy LaPak seriously injured, should remain in prison.

“I go through my life thinking what if I’m walking to my car from dinner and brutally attacked again?” Coney said.

Khuth, 35, appeared before a superior court judge Thursday, seeking a sentence modification to 19.5 years based on his efforts to redeem himself through schooling, work and helping others.


“I extend my highest apologies to the victims of my crime,” Khuth said as he sat in alone in a room at Osborn Correctional Institution appearing for the hearing which took place virtually. “I take full responsibility for what I’ve done.”

Khuth has taken every opportunity while incarcerated to turn his life around, numerous family and friends said during the hearing. “There will never be an excuse for what happened that day,” said his sister-in-law Erin Khuth. “But he has dedicated himself to rehabilitating himself.”

Close to three dozen of Khuth’s friends and family appeared on the virtual hearing with several speaking on behalf of his character and the good works he has accomplished while incarcerated.

If Judge Maximino Medina grants the requested sentence modification, Khuth could be released at any time.

But his victims and their families told the judge that they will continue to suffer long after Khuth has gone home if he is released. “I want my family to feel safe and not riddled with anxiety when we go somewhere,” said Timothy’s mother, Maureen LaPak, who cried when she heard Coney’s testimony from him.

If Khuth wants to be released early, Danbury State’s Attorney Stephen Sedensky argued that Khuth should wait for a parole hearing that would take place in about six years.

“This sentence was by no means excessive,” Sedensky said. “We have two victims who have a life sentence of injuries.”

Khuth was two months past his 18th birthday in August 2004 when he viciously beat Timothy LaPak with a small group of others in a fight over bottles thrown from two vehicles on a Danbury street.

LaPak, who was 19 at the time, suffered a traumatic brain injury, a fractured jaw and eye socket and other injuries. He had to be placed on a ventilator while in a coma for a period of time as a result of the attack, he and his parents said.

“He smashed my head in and continued to attack me while I lay unconscious in a pool of my own blood,” Timothy LaPak said in a statement that was read to the court by his mother.

Timothy LaPak had to have his jaw wired shut and relearn to walk during months of rehabilitation, his family said.

Coney, then 21, suffered serious injuries to his mouth that required extensive surgery and reconstruction. Those injuries still require painful treatments to this day, he said.

After the assault, Khuth and three others took their victims’ wallets and used their credit cards to buy cigarettes and gasoline, court records show.

Khuth, who is Cambodian, grew up in a chaotic household with several siblings. At times the older siblings had to step in to help raise the younger ones, court documents said. His father of him, who served in the Cambodian military fighting against Vietnam during the Cambodian Civil War, was an abusive alcoholic who would beat him, his mother and his siblings of him, Khuth’s attorney Alex Taubes said in a document supporting the sentence modification.

Khuth said he was drunk and high when the attack occurred. The three others involved pleaded guilty, but Khuth was convicted following a trial and given a sentence of 30 years in 2006.

The first six years of his incarceration were typical as he struggled to adjust to his circumstances, his family said. But, in 2010, when he lost three family members in a short period of time he began taking his rehabilitation seriously, he told the judge.

Since then he’s completely over 20 programs, including anger management. He’s also received his high school diploma, taken college courses and earned two trade certificates. Khuth has also mentored other inmates and become a strong employee holding various jobs at the prison.

Correction officers spoke highly of him in evaluation reports and one penned a letter in support of his sentence modification. He wants to mentor at-risk youth when he gets out in the hopes of helping them make better choices than he did, Khuth said.

“I’m deeply sorry for what I’ve done,” Khuth told the judge. “Your honor, prison has had me longer than my mother. I have gone to great lengths to rehabilitate myself. I believe I have the tools and skills necessary. I am ready to contribute to society.”

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