Citrus Heights Man Sentenced For The Murder Of His Wife
October 01, 2019
R. Scott Owens
PLACER COUNTY DISTRICT ATTORNEY
10810 Justice Center Drive, Suite 240
Roseville, California 95678
For Immediate Release
October 01, 2019
Contact: Jeff Wilson, Chief Assistant District Attorney 916 543-8000
CITRUS HEIGHTS MAN SENTENCED FOR THE MURDER OF HIS WIFE
Michael Abeyta, 30, of Citrus Heights was sentenced today by the Honorable Suzanne Gazzaniga in connection with the October 11, 2017, death of his wife Trang Tran. The sentencing today came as a result of Abeyta’s guilty plea to Second Degree Murder on July 23, 2019. Abeyta entered his plea with the understanding he would receive a sentence of 15 years to life in state prison.
Deputy District Attorney Mariam Baxley filed a Sentencing Memorandum outlining the facts surrounding the murder of Tran. The Memorandum explained that on January 27, 2018, Tran’s remains were discovered by hikers. Her body was skeletonized, in an advanced state of decomposition, and scattered in different locations. With the assistance of Chico State University Anthropologists and the Department of Justice, Sheriff’s Detectives were able to identify that the remains were those of Tran’s.
On October 10, 2017, an off-duty police officer reported that at approximately 2:05 a.m. he had witnessed the defendant pushing his car off a steep embankment near the location where Tran’s remains were found. He was able to identify Abeyta as the driver of the vehicle. Detectives located the vehicle at a local tow yard and also located Tran’s passport in the vehicle. Further investigation revealed that Abeyta had met Tran at a Central Florida University. They married shortly thereafter believing that Tran was pregnant with Abeyta’s child. When Abeyta learned that Tran had a miscarriage, the marriage deteriorated and ultimately led to Tran’s murder by Abeyta.
Chief Assistant District Attorney Jeff Wilson, who prosecuted the case with DDA Baxley was satisfied that justice was achieved today for Tran. Wilson stated, “It is beyond tragic that this young woman came to our country for an education, and fell in love and married a monster who rather than divorce her, decided to kill her and dump her body to decay in the woods. While her friends and family worried and wondered where Tran was, Abeyta spent his time having sex, doing drugs, and partying showing no remorse for the life he destroyed. He would still be living that life today if not for the hikers who found her body, the witnesses that came forward, and the quick and outstanding investigation that was conducted by Placer County Sheriff Detectives Brian Mattison and Chris Joyce. Mattison and Joyce worked tirelessly in the days after Tran’s remains were located and were able to identify Abeyta as Tran’s killer.”
Tran’s parents who are residents of Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam were able to attend the sentencing hearing today with the assistance of Special Agent Scott Patterson and Special Agent Todd Ricketts from the United States Diplomatic Security Service. On behalf of Tran’s family and the Placer County District Attorney’s Office we would like to express our gratitude to Agent Patterson and Agent Ricketts and their agency, for making sure Tran’s parents were able to witness their daughter’s killer receive the justice he deserved.