Murder suspect rejects plea deal

Published 1:27 pm Friday, July 13, 2012

ST. PAUL — The St. Paul man accused of stabbing his wife and killing an Albert Lea man has rejected a plea agreement in his case.

Pah Ber

Just minutes before he was slated to plead guilty to amended charges tied to the alleged altercation, Pah Ber, 49, on Friday opted to not accept the agreement and to instead proceed to trial.

Ber’s lawyer, Marcus Almon, said he plans to use a defense that his client was “voluntarily intoxicated” at the time of his actions.

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According to court documents, Ber had reportedly been drinking and playing cards Nov. 19, before he came home to his apartment and saw Albert Lean Po Lye, 40, sleeping on the living room couch and accused him of sleeping with his wife.

After allegedly stabbing Lye in the neck, stomach and chest, Ber reportedly turned on his wife, Paw Pree, 40. While Pree survived, she suffered serious injuries.

The incident reportedly took place in an apartment in St. Paul’s North End neighborhood.

Ber, who appeared for the hearing in custody in a dark green Ramsey County Jail jumpsuit, looked down as discussions took place between his lawyer, the prosecutors and Ramsey County Judge Elena Ostby. He communicated through an interpreter speaking Karen.

Toward the back of the small audience in the courtroom sat Pree, with her daughter and another family member.

Pree had been stabbed numerous times in the altercation, including several times in the eyes. While she is not blind, she appears to have suffered substantial damage to her vision. She listened to the proceedings through a listening device that was connected to the interpreter.

Ber initially faced one count of second-degree murder in the death of Lye and one count of second-degree attempted murder related to Pree.

However, in anticipation of the plea agreement Friday, Ramsey County Assistant Attorney Juan Hoyas had amended the charges to include a first-degree assault charge instead of the attempted murder charge.

Hoyas indicated he would re-file the original charges with the refusal of the agreement.

The murder of Lye and injury of Pree might be the first high-profile crime among the 4,000 members of the Karen population in Minnesota.

Lye had reportedly been living in Albert Lea for about a year at the time of the incident. He did not have family in Minnesota but did have friends in Albert Lea and St. Paul.

He was among about 200 Karen people residing in Albert Lea.

Ber’s trial has been scheduled for Aug. 20.