ELKO — Lisa Wong was sentenced Thursday to almost 19 years in prison for beating a woman at a Carlin brothel with a hammer.
Wong, 50, went to trial this summer related to the August 2012 attack, in which she followed a fellow brothel employee, Sang Fowler, into a room and struck the victim on the head, face and hand. As she was hitting the victim, Wong yelled out she was going to kill Fowler, according to trial testimony.
A jury returned guilty verdicts on four felonies: attempted murder with the use of a deadly weapon, battery with a deadly weapon resulting in substantial bodily harm, assault with a deadly weapon and burglary.
Deputy District Attorney Mark Mills asked the judge for a sentence of 43 to 192 months in prison and $7,795.91 restitution for the victim, who sustained a compound fracture to her finger and lacerations on her head.
“This was largely an unprovoked, violent and viscous attack by the defendant with a hammer on a friend and co-worker of hers,” he said.
The prosecution recommended an additional 12 to 32 months for the required deadly weapon enhancement.
Chief Deputy Public Defender Roger Stewart said Wong led a tragic life. She suffered mental illnesses, endured repeated abuse, turned to prostitution at a young age and later became hooked on drugs. Wong ended up working in a brothel.
Leading up to the crime, tensions grew between Wong and the victim to the point where management told Wong she had to leave. This sudden unemployment, mixed with a life of emotional instability, created “a semi-lethal cocktail in the mind,” he said.
Stewart said the prosecution and defense were on the verge of reaching a plea agreement — once before a preliminary hearing and once again after Wong’s first attempt at standing trial ended in a mistrial due to jury misconduct — but Wong backed out both times despite her attorney advising otherwise.
“It’s painful for me to see my client shooting herself in both feet,” Stewart said.
Stewart speculated that Wong decided to continue to trial because her thoughts were hazy and she might have blocked out the memory.
In any event, Stewart said Wong was her own worst enemy when it came to the litigation of her criminal case because had she taken the district attorney’s plea offer to a lesser charge, she would have had a much lower sentence range.
“This was not the kind of attempted murder where someone’s thought about it a great deal and then one way or another screwed up in the middle of carefully laid plans,” Stewart said. “This was a person with bi-polarity and many other ailments, who had virtually no chance to make a success of herself in life and who has one way or another had to fight with being dealt among the worst decks of cards.”
Wong also faced a charge of abuse of an older person but was found not guilty on that count.
Stewart thanked Mills for suggesting a lighter enhancement sentence, and asked the judge to go lighter still. He said Wong wanted to be placed on probation.
District Judge Al Kacin said probation wasn’t fitting for the crime, but neither was a maximum sentence. The judge took note of many “mitigating circumstances,” such as Wong’s history and mental ailments.
Although the victim didn’t attend the sentencing hearing, Kacin said he wished her well, as he did the brothel owners and Wong herself.
Kacin sentenced Wong to the recommended 192 months for attempted murder with parole eligibility after 43 and an additional 32 months for the deadly weapon enhancement with parole eligibility after 12.
Sentences on the three other charges Wong was convicted of will run concurrently to her sentence for attempted murder with the use of a deadly weapon.
She received credit for 418 days served.