May 9, 2017
A Houston man, who had been on the run for a decade, was convicted of murder and sentenced by a jury to life in prison Tuesday, the Harris County District Attorney’s office announced.
Happy Tran Pham walked into the Cajun Kitchen restaurant on Bellaire Blvd in Dec. 2006 and shot Pierre Mai, a college student who was sitting with friends, including Pham’s ex-girlfriend.
As he killed Mai, he was overheard to say, "you’re in my hood now, m---- f----."
Pham was last seen on the restaurant’s surveillance cameras as he burst out the front door and ran toward a life on the run. He would be featured three times on the "America’s Most Wanted." television show.
"This person went to great lengths to hide, and it took a lot of manpower and a lot of time to bring him in," Assistant District Attorney Ryan Trask said. "You can run and you can hide, but eventually the past is going to catch up to you."
Pham, now 32, was convicted Monday following a seven-day trial in the 184th District Court. He will be eligible for parole in 30 years.
Authorities had followed up on various tips around the state, nation and Canada to find Pham, who was ultimately arrested last year back in Houston. He was hiding at a friend’s house, less than four miles from where the scene of the crime.
While a fugitive, Pham never renewed his driver license, paid taxes or had a legitimate job, according to court testimony.
He used a friend’s identification at times, and had 5 pounds of marijuana and $26,000 in cash when he was arrested by the Gulf Coast Violent Offenders Task Force.
Testimony showed that Pham and Mai had dated the same woman.
Mai dated her for two years then broke up before she went on to date Pham for a few months before that relationship also ended.