Guilty Verdict Handed Down for Brendonwood Park Apt. Homicide

By Scott Sarvay
By Maureen Mespell
By Max Resnik

January 13, 2012 Updated Jan 13, 2012 at 8:45 AM EDT

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (Indiana’s NewsCenter) - A Fort Wayne Burmese man has been found guilty of killing his friend.

A jury reportedly convicted Nyunt Shwe of reckless homicide, battery and involuntary manslaughter charges Thursday evening.

The 47-year-old was accused in the beating death of 43-year-old Aung Win during an argument at the Brendonwood Park Apartments last April.

Shwe is scheduled to be sentenced next month.

Day two of the Nuynt Shwe homicide trial began with continued testimony from the State and a request by the Defense for a mistrial.

Wednesday, the State called a pathologist to describe to the jury Aung Win’s cause of death. Through at least 20 detailed autopsy photographs, the pathologist explained how multiple blows to the head with a pestle caused significant head trauma that led to Win’s death.

It was during testimony over these photographs that the Defense began to question the approach of the prosecution.

The Defense argued that the range of photographs, which included abrasions and scrapes not near the head where the cause of death was determined, was leading the jury to believe Win was beaten to death, therefore playing on the emotions of the jury.

The Defense then argued that Thein Oo’s police report, given at the hospital following being stabbed by Win, must be included to provide greater context to the events of April 7, 2011. Prior to suffering the blows to the head that led to his death, Win stabbed Oo in the apartment.

After releasing the jury to discuss the matter, Shwe’s defense team called for a mistrial on the basis that the State’s use of the photographs and attempted use of a 911 call was done to play on the emotions of the jury. Judge John Surbeck denied the motion but did tell the prosecution to “ratchet up” their strategy.

“This case is getting over-tried to the point that it’s unduly prejudicial to the defendant,” Surbeck said.

The result of the short break for the jurors was the striking of photographs not affiliated with head trauma from the record.

In addition to a pathologist, the State called an expert translator who worked with Shwe and the Fort Wayne Police during the interviewing period following Shwe’s arrest. Mya Hla, Professor of Burmese at IPFW, while under oath, explained that Shwe admitted to a detective that he did in fact hit Win in the head three to four times with the pestle. After the detective left the room according to Hla, Shwe retracted his statement to only punching Win in the face and not using the pestle.

The Defense is arguing that Shwe gave a false confession and that Shwe’s roommate Thein Oo, played the bigger role in Win’s death.
After a lengthy jury selection Tuesday morning, the trial of a Burmese man accused of killing another began shortly after noon.

46-year-old Nuynt Shwe is charged with battery, aggravated battery, involuntary manslaughter and reckless homicide in the death of 43-year-old Aung Win.

Win was killed at the Brendonwood Park Apartments as a result of a blow to the head April 7, 2011 and was discovered April 8, 2011.

Tuesday, the State began calling their witnesses including neighbors of Shwe. They also called a number of law enforcement officers who responded to the scene of Win’s death and officers who interacted with Shwe after his arrest.

The State argues that after a night of drinking that involved Shwe, his roommate Thein Oo and Win, Win stabbed Oo. After stabbing Oo, Win left but returned a short time later. Upon his return, the State argues that Shwe first punched Win in the head and then proceeded to hit him in the head with a pestle.

The State argues that while in custody, Shwe agreed with a police theory about the events of the night of April 7, 2011. In that theory, according to the prosecution, Shwe kills Win. According to the State, Shwe, while in custody of police, acknowledged the theory to be true thereby admitting his involvement in Win’s death.

Shwe’s Defense believes that the police secured a false confession as the result of the language barrier between Fort Wayne Police and Shwe who does not speak English. The Defense also argued in their opening statement that it was Oo who killed Win in retaliation for being stabbed by Win.

All of Tuesday’s witnesses received translators. A translator was also at Shwe’s side throughout the day.

It is expected that at least two translators will be stationed in the courtroom throughout the trial.

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