With jury selection in the second Minh Van Lam trial completed and opening statements scheduled to begin today, a second inmate of the Orange County Jail has claimed that the 21-year-old Vietnamese student said he deliberately killed Cal State Fullerton Prof. Edward Lee Cooperman.
Chief Deputy Dist. Atty. James Enright declined to say whether he intends to call the jailhouse informant as a witness. He would only say his office is still investigating.
Lam, a former student of Cooperman, admits he killed the professor at Cooperman's campus office on Oct. 13, 1984, but claims it was an accident. Lam said that a .25-caliber handgun went off when the professor grabbed his arm to show him how to aim the weapon.
Before the first trial, which ended in a hung jury, prosecutors interviewed an inmate who said that Lam told him he killed Cooperman on orders from other Vietnamese who were opposed to Cooperman's political ties to communist Vietnam. Prosecutors decided not to use 18-year-old Tuano Koivisto, an auto theft suspect, as a witness because his credibility was questionable.