The attorney for a Portland man who pleaded guilty to the 2018 murder of his partner asked the state’s highest court Wednesday to reduce his 40-year prison sentence.

Anthony Leng sits in court in Portland in January 2018. Leng pleaded guilty to murdering Sohka Khuon, his longtime domestic partner, at their Portland home on Jan. 7, 2018. Gregory Rec/Staff Photographer

Anthony S. Leng shot and killed Souka Khoun, his longtime partner and the mother of his children, and police suspected someone manipulated the crime scene to make it look like Khoun had wielded a knife. The couple’s two children were home at the time.

Leng pleaded guilty in 2019, and as part of the deal, agreed that he would face at most 40 years in prison.

At his sentencing, the judge imposed the maximum sentence under the deal. But Leng and his attorney argued this week that the trial judge did not give proper consideration to shorter prison sentences imposed in other cases with similar characteristics as Leng’s when crafting his prison term.

Sokha Khuon

Sentencing protocol requires that a judge first determine a “basic sentence” and then weigh factors that might influence a departure, up or down, from that baseline. In Leng’s case, the basic sentence was pegged at 50 to 55 years of incarceration. Leng’s attorney, Peter Cyr, argued that the basic sentence was incorrectly determined, and therefore the sentence of 40 years must be re-evaluated.

The state argued that the court’s determination was fair and just, that there was no abuse of discretion by the judge who sentenced Leng, and that the sentence may have been longer, including life in prison, had the case not been resolved by way of a plea because Leng’s children were present when he killed their mother.

That the sentencing judge did not engage in a detailed, on-the-record discussion of other similar cases is not proof of error, the state argued. Given the circumstances of the murder, the 10- to 15-year downward departure from the baseline sentence shows the judge evaluated all of the aggravating and mitigating factors present, the state said.

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