Mom's pain over deaths of 4 kids surfaces at trial

Kieu Phan and three of her four children
Kieu Phan and three of her four children
Lam Luong is accused of the murder of his 4 children
Lam Luong is accused of the murder of his 4 children

MOBILE, Ala. (AP) - The 23-year-old mother of four children tossed from an Alabama coastal bridge quoted her common-law husband Lam Luong as saying the children's bodies would never been found.

Kieu Phan of Irvington had confronted him hours after their Jan. 7, 2008 disappearance. She says he "kept laughing."

Phan testified Monday as Luong's capital murder trial in Mobile County began in the deaths of his four children.

Phan burst into tears when color photos of the children were flashed on an overhead screen viewed by jurors and the 38-year-old Luong, who sat motionless as she identified each by name: 2-year-old Hannah Luong, 3-year-old Ryan Phan, 1-year-old Lindsey Luong, and 4-months-old Danny Luong.

Phan, whose testimony in Vietnamese was interpreted by translator Angie Hawker of Pensacola, Fla., says Luong at first told her that he left the children with a woman in Bayou La Batre, but by 7 p.m. when they didn't return, she went to the police and started a frantic house-to-house search.

Later, she said, Luong admitted "they are all dead." She said he called from jail to say, "No way that we can find the children. . ..He kept laughing."

Prosecutors claim Luong, a Vietnamese refugee and part-time shrimp boat worker, argued with Phan before he drove the family van to the top of the two-lane Dauphin Island bridge and tossed the kids into the cold Mississippi Sound 80 feet below.

The four tiny bodies were later recovered from waters off the coasts of Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana during a search that involved hundreds of volunteers in aircraft, boats and on foot.

(Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)